Fact Check

Did Members of Ukraine's Armed Forces Help Make This Bollywood Video?

A viral tweet described the video as "war propaganda in the style of Bollywood dance videos."

Published Jun 13, 2023

 (@TPKMAPT/YouTube)
Image Via @TPKMAPT/YouTube
Claim:
Members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces helped produce a Bollywood-style video that started going viral in May 2023.
Context

Of all the performers in the clip, it was unclear who, exactly, was a member of the military or a civilian. However, an orchestra with the Ukrainian Armed Forces Navy was depicted on screen and listed in the video's YouTube caption, proving that at least some participants were military members. Additionally, a commander leading Ukraine's defense of Mykolaiv was mentioned in the video's acknowledgements.

In May 2023, a Bollywood-style video started going viral on Twitter and Telegram that allegedly showed members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Reverse-image search results revealed that the the New York Post also covered the topic.  

The claim was true; At least a portion of the people depicted on screen were military members. The video was recorded in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, and was first published online on May 20, 2023, by the YouTube account for TPK MAPT — a television and radio network. The video was intended as a parody of the Oscar-winning "Naatu Naatu" song from India's "RRR" movie, a controversial film set in pre-independent India that was released in 2022.

Coincidentally, the original scene in "RRR" had been shot right outside the Mariinsky Palace, official residence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in 2021, months before Russia's invasion of the country. Numerous Indian news outlets shared the 2023 parody video depicting members of Ukraine's Armed Forces.

The parody showed a military ceremony, with lyrics that directly referenced Russia's invasion of Ukraine. According to English subtitles, the lyrics included phrases such as, "There is no use to negotiate with terrorists, because terrorists only understand the language of force," and "so will Putin have to back off, hide in Kremlin, and to fuckov." It also showed Ukrainian soldiers dancing, operating drones, and singing, "Russian orcs will keep complaining, saying they are fighting NATO" and "those are just some lame excuses."

The parody video's caption on YouTube stated that a military orchestra, three dance groups, and the Mykolaiv Vocational College of Culture participated in the video. The Military Orchestra of the 406th separate artillery brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Navy was visible in the recording and shared the parody video on its Facebook page. Dmytro Marchenko, the former head of one of the Armed Forces' departments and a commander leading Ukraine's defense of Mykolaiv, was mentioned in the acknowledgements, although he wasn't depicted on screen. Moreover, the logo visible at the end of the video — a blue shield and yellow shield with an eagle — suggested that members of the military approved the video.

Jane Fedotova, the vice president of Liberal Democratic League of Ukraine, was among the first people to share the parody video on Twitter, writing, "In the original scene [from 'RRR'], the main characters express their protest against the British officer (colonizer) for not allowing them to meet with a song" and "the Ukrainian version is against the Russian Federation."

Sources

Abrams, Simon. "The Man Behind India's Controversial Global Blockbuster 'RRR.'" The New Yorker, 16 Feb. 2023. www.newyorker.com, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/the-man-behind-indias-controversial-global-blockbuster-rrr-s-s-rajamouli.

"Defender of Mykolaiv — Dmytro Marchenko. The story of a general whose leadership did not let the Russians capture the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv." We Are Ukraine, 30 Aug. 2022, https://www.weareukraine.info/defender-of-mykolaiv-dmytro-marchenko-the-story-of-a-general-whose-leadership-did-not-let-the-russians-capture-the-southern-ukrainian-city-of-mykolaiv/.

"And The Oscar Goes To RRR! Naatu Naatu Becomes 1st Song From Indian Film To Win Academy Award." IndiaTimes, 13 Mar. 2023, https://www.indiatimes.com/entertainment/bollywood/rrrs-naatu-naatu-wins-the-oscars-595660.html.

Ukrainian Soldiers Spoof Oscar-Winning "Naatu Naatu" Song. 10 June 2023, https://nypost.com/2023/06/10/ukrainian-soldiers-spoof-oscar-winning-naatu-naatu-song/.

Higher Vocational School № 21 of Mykolaiv | ETF. https://www.etf.europa.eu/en/projects-campaigns/partners/higher-vocational-school-no-21-mykolaiv. Accessed 13 June 2023.

"Liberal Democratic League of Ukraine at LYMEC." LYMEC, https://www.lymec.eu/liberaldemocraticleagueofukraine. Accessed 13 June 2023.

Naatu Naatu Full Video Song (Telugu) [4K] | RRR | NTR,Ram Charan | MM Keeravaani | SS Rajamouli. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsU0CGZoV8E. Accessed 13 June 2023.

RRR (Rise Roar Revolt). Directed by S. S. Rajamouli, DVV Entertainment, 2022.

"Ukraine Soldiers Dance To 'Naatu Naatu', Video Is Viral." NDTV.Com, https://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/ukraine-soldiers-dance-to-naatu-naatu-video-is-viral-4090030. Accessed 13 June 2023.

"Watch: Ukrainian Military's Hilarious Parody of 'Naatu Naatu' Song from 'RRR' Goes Viral." The Times of India, 30 May 2023. The Economic Times - The Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/telugu/movies/news/watch-ukrainian-militarys-hilarious-parody-of-naatu-naatu-song-from-rrr-goes-viral/articleshow/100612059.cms?from=mdr.

Взвод № 1. НВ Називає 25 Найвпливовіших Українських Військових. https://nv.ua/ukr/ukraine/events/generali-peremogi-nv-nazivaye-25-nayvplivovishih-ukrajinskih-viyskovih-50276584.html. Accessed 13 June 2023.

Музичне Послання Окупантів Naahu. Пародія На Пісню Naatu Naatu. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmW6T1fBhug. Accessed 13 June 2023.

У Індії піарять фільм RRR: на постері – Маріїнський парк у Києві, відео. https://umoloda.kyiv.ua/number/0/119/162028. Accessed 13 June 2023.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.