‘Martin Luther King’ is worth making in different languages: Venkatesh Maha and Sampoornesh Babu

Venkatesh Maha is the screenwriter and Sampoornesh is the lead in 'Martin Luther King', an adaptation of the Tamil movie 'Mandela'.

ByPrakash Pecheti

Published Oct 24, 2023 | 6:03 PMUpdatedOct 24, 2023 | 6:03 PM

Venkatesh Maha Sampoornesh Babu

Starring Sampoornesh Babu in the lead, political satire Martin Luther King is expected to hit the theatres on 27 October.

Venkatesh Maha wrote the screenplay for the film, which is an adaptation of the Tamil original film Mandela (2021).

YNOT Studios and Reliance Entertainment are presenting Martin Luther King, while Mahayana Motion Pictures Production is bankrolling the project.

Debutante director Puja Kolluru helmed the film.

During an interaction with the media in Hyderabad on Tuesday, 24 October, screenwriter Venkatesh Maha and actor Sampoornesh Babu shared their journey.

‘Said no to Martin Luther King

Venkatesh Maha said he had a reason for choosing to make a film like Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya (2020) and not directing Martin Luther King.

“I openly admitted to YNOT Studios that I wouldn’t do it because I have too many scripts to work on. But after watching Mandela, I felt the story should reach people in all the nations where democracy exists. Such stories should be made in all languages.”

The director-actor recalled, “I am happy to have filmmaker Puja Kolluru who helmed the project successfully. But the biggest problem was the casting. We needed an actor who could get into the shoes of Yogi Babu who played the lead in the original.”

He added, “One day, Sampoornesh Babu’s name struck my mind as an impulse because I felt only he could make people relate to the common man.”

Senior artiste VK Naresh and Sharanya Pradeep play crucial roles in the flick.

The makers have already organised early premieres in cities like Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Nellore, Warangal, and Kurnool.

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‘Don’t want to make another C/O Kancharapalem

When asked why he doesn’t want to do a film on the lines of his directorial debut C/O Kancharapalem (2018), which helped him carve a niche for himself in the industry, Venkatesh Maha asserted that he doesn’t want to make a film like C/O Kancharapalem again.

Venkatesh Maha with Puja Kolluru and Sampoornesh Babu

Venkatesh Maha with Puja Kolluru and Sampoornesh Babu. (X)

“That’s why I have planned the project Marmanu. We have announced a crowd-funding for the project and the response is amazing. Now, I have become a producer with Martin Luther King. So, I am carefully trying to venture into other crafts,” he quipped.

He said he made a film like Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya because the posters with blood and guns kept greeting him everywhere in the city.

“I wondered why I shouldn’t show a common man on the poster — a happy man (Satyadev) wearing a loose-fitting jacket (banian) sporting a moustache.”

Venkatesh Maha added, “I wanted to tell something fresh to the audience. I won’t say that C/O Kancharapalem is my style of making. My next film Marmanu is a magical illusion story. And then, a fantasy story is on the anvil. I am making an action thriller with Satyadev.”

So, was it a challenge for him to cast Sampoornesh Babu in the lead as the latter has a different image on the Telugu silver screen with the spoof comedy?

“Actor Sampoornesh Babu gave much of his time to us. We had a 40-day workshop where he was trained about the nuances of the character. Similarly, Puja Kolluru brought in new techniques and methodology. I was surprised watching the sync between Puja and Sampoornesh Babu,” Venkatesh Maha added.

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From “Burning Star” to common man”

A poster of the film Martin Luther King

A poster of the film ‘Martin Luther King’. (X)

Sampoornesh Babu portrayed a few out-of-the-box characters in all his spoof comedy films. For the first time, he attempted to display the feelings of the common man through Martin Luther King.

“It’s a complete changeover, and I am enjoying it. It was during Hrudaya Kaleyam (2014) that I experienced a strange feeling. I couldn’t believe myself when I watched myself on the screen,” the actor said.

Sampoornesh Babu recalled, “After so many years, I experienced it again with Martin Luther King. When director Puja garu spoke about holding workshops, I felt silly because I am an actor with some good films under my belt. But the workshop really changed my thinking.”

He revealed that walking style ate up a major portion of the session.

“I could sense the difference. How a cobbler walks in a village. This character made me recall my past when I first started learning the ropes of acting. Puja garu has complete command over what she is doing,” the actor explained.

“Once I aced the style of walking, the character of a cobbler automatically kicked in. I haven’t followed the character graph of Yogi Babu in Mandela. I was told to be as myself — how Narasimha Chary would behave in his native village,” Sampoornesh Babu signed off.

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