VK Naresh, after films like 'Samajavaragamana' and 'Malli Pelli', is going to be seen in the October 27th release 'Martin Luther King', which is coming out in theatres at a time when the election fever is gripping the Telugu States. The film is a political satire.
Naresh clarifies that 'MLK' doesn't target any political party in particular. "Whatever unfolds due to politics, it is the common man who has to live with the consequences. That's the truth. Our film is alive to this reality," Naresh ponders.
This is my second film with 'Care Of Kancharapalem' fame Venkatesh Maha, with whom I did 'Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya' in 2020. Maha has co-written 'Martin Luther King', which is both absolutely entertaining and also powered by message.
Our movie has already been premiered in Vizag, Warangal, Vijawayada and a couple of other towns. If you are confident about content, you wouldn't mind holding early premiers. In Warangal, I watched the screening with the audience. Throughout the run-time, they enjoyed the fun moments and found the tense moments quite immersive.
I, Maha have full-fledged roles. The titular role, obviously, is played by Sampoornesh Babu. For him, this film will herald a new phase.
I play an incompetent dynast who wants to be in power in 'MLK'. Actual politicking at a micro level takes place in our villages. The nature of politics that happens at the ground level is of a different level altogether. Director Puja Kolluru has set the story in a backward village.
Dynasty politics, the politician-businessman nexus and such realities have made the power of vote all the more important in today's times. In a democracy, the commoner is the real king. It is the commoner who votes in parties to power. The characters in 'MLK' are slice-of-life. They are also original. The music, especially the unconventional songs, will stand out as a key highlight. The BGM will reflect the voice of Martin Luther King.
'MLK' is less of a remake and more of an adaptation. The political climate of the Telugu States has been reflected by 'MLK'. It is also coming out at a time when elections are nearing.
After 'MLK', several new artists will come into prominence. Two dialects and regional sentiments prevail in the same village in this film. That's quite unique. The characters are seen doing everyday jobs and they belong to our world. That's what makes them charming.
A new phase:
I have had a good phase in recent months. 'Samajavaragamana', 'Intinti Ramayanam' and the recent 'The Great Indian Suicide' (on Aha Video) are examples. I have been listening to a wide variety of subjects. Young directors are imagining me in absolutely interesting roles. Not every film is hero-centric these days. A set of niche films are blossoming. I am really happy to be a part of the industry during this phase.
No to politics:
I stayed away from cinema to be able to participate in politics at one point in my life. Around the year 2000, Indian politics saw a transformational change. Coalition governments used to fall like anything in the 1990s. At that time, Vajpayee garu's leadership provided stability for years.
I have always been attracted to the ideology of the RSS. I lived in Naxal-infested and backward regions. I was engaged in politics quite intimately. I somehow quit politics and took up cinema. SV Ranga Rao garu is the biggest inspiration to me in starting a second innings.
I won't be re-entering politics. I used to be ideological and project-centric (for example, roads, water problem, etc) in my approach. These days, politics has become crass. Politicians use indignified language. Women politicians are abused blatantly. If you want to contest as an MP, you have to be ready to spend Rs 100 Cr. If you spend that much, you would want to indulge in corruption to earn that much wealth back. Governments change, and leaders are jailed and let out on bail. This will continue as long as vendetta politics rule the roost. It will be a vicious circle.
Respect for Pawan Kalyan:
I have full respect for all artists who have entered politics. I have nothing against them. I respect Pawan Kalyan, but don't deem this statement as my endorsement. I endorse none but respect everyone.
Dictatorial attitudes won't help:
Crushing someone by jailing him will only engender anti-incumbency. I don't want to say anything more. Look at the Emergency example. Politics are supposed to benefit the common man. Pawan Kalyan wants to disentangle politics from the stranglehold of money. I am proud of the fact that someone from our industry is in politics.
Expect a decisive mandate in the next elections:
The film industry has always seen the entry of responsible artists into politics. We are entertainers, first and foremost. It is up to the public to elect us to power. If the film industry is mum today (over certain developments in Andhra Pradesh), that's because everyone is waiting for a revolt to happen. I don't want to support or criticize anyone. It is good that the Telugu people have rarely given a fractured verdict. Be it the TDP or the Congress (in the past), they were given decisive verdicts. In the next elections, too, the verdict will be decisive.