Review: Martin Luther King


  |   Political   |   27-10-2023

Cast - Sampoornesh Babu, Naresh, Sharanya Pradeep, Venkatesh Maha

Director - Puja Kolluru

Producer - Venkatesh Maha, Sashikanth, Chakravarthy

Banner - YNOT Studios, Reliance Ent, Mahayana Motion Pictures

Music - Smaran Sai

Sampoornesh Babu, renowned for his eccentric comedies such as “Kobbari Matta” and “Hrudaya Kaleyam,” took a considerable hiatus before returning with his next project. This time, he ventured into a remake with “Martin Luther King,” originally titled “Mandela” in Tamil, which featured Yogi Babu. Notable for its political and societal-drama theme, this film is a significant challenge for Sampoornesh Babu, although the movie’s trailer has garnered some attention. Let’s see how it fared out. 

What Is It About?

In Padamarapadu village, Smile alias Martin Luther King (Sampoo) is a Cobbler who sits under a tree. The village is divided into two factions, Dakshinam and Uttaram, where an old president has married women from both sides and had two sons, Jaggu (Naresh) and Loki (Venkatesh Maha). The northern and southern factions are in a heated dispute over a toilet, which leads to a significant conflict and a fallout between their father and songs. In response, Jaggu and Loki decide to run for the presidential position, for which Martin Luther King (Sampoo)’s vote is crucial. The ensuing story is all about the intense battle, struggles, and drama surrounding the quest to secure King’s crucial vote, and the downside of it.


Sampoornesh Babu, known for his comedic timing, takes on a more defined role in Martin Luther King that demands a significant dramatic portrayal. While he delivers some good one-liners, he struggles in critical dramatic scenes, often exhibiting blank expressions. He finds it challenging to convey the nuances of pain, sorrow, and helplessness effectively.

Naresh VK, on the other hand, stands out as Jaggu, who runs the JagJal water plant. His comedic timing feels effortless, and his portrayal of negative shades carries a sense of seniority. He essentially carries the film and delivers some memorable dialogues. It’s hard to imagine another actor in this role.

Venkatesh Maha is making efforts to showcase his acting skills. While he handles negative-shaded parts well, he falls short in some scenes that require more dramatic expression. Although his body language suits the role of a politician, he needs to work on refining his acting skills.

Saranya Pradeep fits to the T into the role of the Postmaster, while the newcomers who play side-kicks, villagers, and other characters deliver reasonably good performances.


In a story like Martin Luther King, authentic visuals are essential, and the art department manages to capture some of that authenticity. However, the cinematography falls short in adding a distinct character to these visuals. At times, the film feels like a documentary with little visual finesse. A more vibrant and thought-out color palette could have elevated the visual appeal.

The sound design raises some concerns, as the voices appear somewhat uneasy due to sync-sound recording. The background score lacks impactful themes, making it less effective. The songs, while contributing to the narrative through montage-based storytelling, don’t particularly stand out in this otherwise straightforward drama.

Venkatesh Maha’s dialogues are laced with satire and philosophy, but they don’t leave a strong impact or become particularly noteworthy. Newcomer Puja Kolluru did a fair job in remaking the movie, but never gave that noticeable directorial touch to any segment. 

Thumbs Up

Sampoo in comedy scenes

Thumbs Down

Flat narrative

Background score



Sampoornesh Babu’s very name is a synonym of humor, and audiences anticipate a comedy-filled experience from him. However, this film leans more towards political drama, shedding light on societal issues like caste discrimination, the misuse of public funds by politicians, and clashes driven by ego and caste divisions in rural areas. While Sampoo’s innocent demeanor does induce laughter at times, his inability to carry the second half of the film with his acting skills disappoints in an otherwise straightforward storyline.

The film initially sets up tension between half-brothers Jaggu and Loki, but some viewers might find it slow. Things pick up when they decide to run for the panchayat election in Padamarapadu village, though the scenes involving politicians trying to win votes feel cliché. The story gets interesting when both parties discover an unknown vote that could be decisive. The interval point is significant as the upper-class brothers address the protagonist with his name, as “King”, for the first time, to secure his vote. In the second half, the storytelling oversight raises ethical concerns, and the film’s open ending may leave you feeling incomplete.

For those familiar with Andhra Pradesh politics, the names of Naresh and Venkatesh Maha, Jaggu and Loki respectively, may indeed evoke thoughts of the prominent figures in power and opposition. The film’s political satire, conveyed through mimicked mannerisms of real-life politicians, like kissing the voters and offering them buttermilk, occasionally brings laughter.

From one perspective, it appears highly unlikely that these individuals running for panchayat elections would go to such lengths as constructing roads, schools, and toilets just for the sake of securing a single vote. When it comes to the issue of caste discrimination, those familiar with it can recognize the practices of backdoor entries and hatred, but for the more urban and tech-savvy Gen-Z audience, the concept of “back-door” might not be immediately apparent, as it is dealt at a superficial level by the makers. 

On the whole, those who get entertained by slow-paced films that have this documentary-finish, will get excited a little, but for the rest, it is an yawn-inducing film that works partly. 

Bottomline: Martin Slower King

Rating: 2.25/5