Martin Luther King, the joint production of YNOT Studios, Reliance Entertainment and Mahayana Motion Pictures, directed by Puja Kolluru, is set to arrive in theatres on October 27. Starring Sampoornesh Babu in the lead, Martin Luther King features VK Naresh, Sharanya Pradeep among others in key roles.
Venkatesh Maha, who directed two critically acclaimed films – C/O Kancharapalem, Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya, is the creative producer of the project. He’s additionally written the screenplay, dialogues and also played a pivotal character in the film.
Starting on October 9, the cast and crew embarked on a tour of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, offering early premieres in cities like Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Nellore, Kurnool and Warangal. The enthusiastic reception and reactions from these premieres have been truly remarkable. Ahead of its release, senior actor Naresh VK interacted with journalists on Wednesday. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
What is Martin Luther King all about?
My journey with Venkatesh Maha started with Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya. The current phase of Telugu cinema belongs to the young generation of filmmakers, and that’s the reason why I am here. Martin Luther King — in short ‘King’ is an absolute entertainer with a bullet-like message in it. Generally, it is rare we find a movie that has a message and also entertainment. Martin Luther King is an entertainment-based film. The result of early premiers in cities like Visakhapatnam, Warangal, Nellore, Kurnool and was incredible.
This is the new trend that was started with Samajavaragamana. If you’re confident with the content, you could show your movie to the audience before the release date. That’s how you reach the audience. Mahayana Motion Pictures Productions held continuous premieres. When I watched with a packed house in Warangal, ladies including all age groups and children watched the show. There were claps, cheers, and roars everywhere throughout the runtime. That was the response we got for Martin Luther King.
What was the reason behind accepting the film?
If you look at my filmography for the last two years, I have done some seven to eight films which were all blockbusters. Even the content on OTT platform — Malli Pelli, Samajavaragamana of course, Intinti Ramayanam, and Great Indian Suicide — had a tremendous positive response from audiences. Because I have been very choosy in selecting scripts. Believe me, I heard as many as 14 scripts in the last one month.
Youngsters are coming up with novel concepts and ideas. There is a unique flavour coming out every season from Telugu cinema. Both the Telugu States are witnessing the election fever. It’s a political season. I can’t say it is political satire. It reflects the political scenario of the present day. It begs the question of who is enjoying the result. More than the political satire, the story is beautifully woven to reflect the present-day affairs of the political state.”
The senior actor added, “Title role is played by Sampoornesh Babu. It is directed by Puja Kolluri while Venkatesh Maha provided the screenplay and the dialogues for the movie. Martin Luther King is a refreshing experience for me. Politics and business have become hand-in-glove today. In this present situation, some leaders are honestly trying to bring about a change in the system.
“I am playing the role of a village president who reaps the benefits from the system by using the name of his family in politics. The entire film was shot in Ongole. The story is set in a rural backdrop. The power of the film is the script. Puja should be appreciated for the way she took the story forward. Sampoo will earn accolades for his lead role. I have earlier worked with five lady directors. I am sure women’s power will rule the film industry in the coming days.”
Naresh says that the beauty of the script is that it has so many newcomers working for it. “Workshops have been conducted with all the 60 artistes of the film. The new-age cinema has broken the rules of moviemaking. There is no set formula that you can say would work.
Martin Luther King is an absolute entertainer and every character offers a unique flavour. The music scored by Smaran Sai is another added highlight of the film. The story is told with thematic songs and background score and you would hear the voice of Martin Luther King’s voice as the reference to one of the scenes. It’s a rare film.”
It’s a remake of Tamil language film Mandela. Have you watched the original before the shoot began?
“More than saying it as a remake, it is inspired by the events that happened in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Of course, it has the basis of the original work. However the political atmosphere of the Telugu States is entirely different from other regions. It is a fresh film. I think the youth will get more attracted to the film during this election time. We started the promotional campaign in a very unique way.”
You have seen politics from very close quarters. How do you define the present political situation in Telugu States?
I’ve not seen politics from close quarters, in fact I played a very crucial role in politics by keeping aside films for about eight years. I was a busy artiste back then. I am an emotional person, and if I like something I am so determined that I won’t sleep until the task gets completed. During the 1999 and early 2000s, our country was witnessing a wave of coalition governments. And they failed miserably at the helm of affairs.
There were instances where governments collapsed in just a single day. Watching all the political episodes on the television, I was moved to tears. After watching the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I had taken a conscious decision to grow as a politician. I was ideologically moved by the great leader. I made up my mind and went to rural Rayalaseema to work there.
I was exposed to the public never before when I started working in the faction hotbed. I did whatever I could. Later, I came back to films nearly after 10 years. And I never want to enter into mainstream politics anymore. I would like to deliver the message through films. Actor late SV Ranga Rao garu was my idol. Like how cinema has been changing its form, politics too is changing its avatars.
Trailer launched; a gripping political satire in the offing
The thought-provoking, entertaining trailer of the political satire, launched today, has truly piqued the curiosity of audiences. The story revolves around a election among two leaders in a village, where one vote could change the fortunes of the candidates. To what extent will they go to please the voter? Sampoornesh Babu plays the titular character, whose earnest portrayal is complemented by Saranya Pradeep’s authoritative screen presence. The assertive performances of Naresh, Venkatesh Maha add more bite to the drama.
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