After the controversy surrounding legendary Sri Lankan Cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan’s biopic hit a crescendo, Tamil superstar Vijay Sethupathi, who was supposed to play the lead role of the off-spinner, has pulled out of the movie after Murali released a statement from UAE and asked Vijay to step down.
“I am releasing this statement since there is a lot of controversy in Tamil Nadu around my biopic 800. I am aware of the flak Vijay Sethuapthi has been receiving for signing my biopic. There are people who have a wrong understanding of my views who are behind Vijay Sethupathi. I don’t want one of the best actors in Tamil Nadu to go through this. Also, fearing the consequences Vijay Sethupathi could face for signing the film in future, I request him to opt-out of the film.” said Muttiah Muralitharan in the statement, which was tweeted by Vijay Sethupathi himself with the caption, “Thank you and goodbye”.
நன்றி.. வணக்கம் 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/PMCPBDEgAC
— VijaySethupathi (@VijaySethuOffl) October 19, 2020
Muralitharan added that he has never given up when he has faced obstacles in his life and he will overcome this obstacle too. The cricketer said that he accepted his biopic because he thought it would inspire youngsters and aspiring cricketers.
“I have never given up when I have faced obstacles in my life. Similarly, I will overcome this obstacle. I accepted my biopic because I thought it would be an inspiration for youngsters and young aspiring cricketers. I believe we will overcome this obstacle and take this film to the audience. The makers of the film have told me they will come out with an announcement on the film soon, I would be helping them in all the ways I can. I would like to thank the press, media channels, politicians, Kollywood actors, Vijay Sethupathi fans and Tamil people for supporting me during this time,” he said further.
On October 8, it was announced that Sethupathi would play Murali in the movie titled 800, however, soon, the controversy followed. In Tamil Nadu, film personalities such as Bharathiraja, Ameer, Thamarai and Cheran and even a state minister, Kadambur C Raju, had made statements urging Vijay Sethupathi to withdraw from the project “considering the sentiments of Tamil people.”
Reported by TFI, Muralitharan has had a controversial stand over the decades-long civil war between the Sri Lanka government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Muttiah is a supporter of the Sri Lankan government which crushed the LTTE, killing its leader V Prabhakaran in 2009, and is accused of committing the genocide of Tamil people.
#ShameOnVijaySethupathi #BoycottVijaySethupathi #Tamils_Boycott_VijaySethupathi #Tamils_Boycott_Vjsethupathi
Dear Vijay Sethpathi, we respected u, we celebrated ur every success, we cared for u, but in return U DID SPIT ON OUR FACE, we will remember this, forever. https://t.co/Vl0K4GO5iv
— Sasi Kumar (@SasiHuman) October 14, 2020
Muthiah Muralitharan is a very admirable and lovable man – VijaySethupathi
The Sinhala Government has massacred two lakh Tamils in Eelam. There is no other proof than this that #VijaySethupathi can not feel this pain! @VijaySethuOffl @RajapaksaNamal pic.twitter.com/ghpiV3FiOu
— Jaswinder Swain (@Jaswinderkhatri) October 13, 2020
The civil war between the Sinhalese majority speakers and the minority Sri Lankan Tamils has killed over 80,000 since 1983 and the majority of the deceased have been Sri Lankan Tamils. According to several media reports, Muttiah’s public stance has been that there has been no genocide in the country and that there were no war crimes.
In 2019, when news reports suggested that he may be the Governor of the Tamil-dominated Northern Province in Sri Lanka, many Tamils in the island country were vocal in their objections.
During the elections that year, Muttiah had campaigned in favour of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was the Defence Secretary when the LTTE was dealt a death blow by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. Murali has openly said in interviews that he felt Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the right person to lead the country, and that Tamil Nadu politicians should not interfere with what’s happening in Sri Lanka.
In the past, the leg-spinner has also compared Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya’s older brother, and former president who also stand accused of war crimes, to Nelson Mandela.
Muralitharan’s story of struggle and reaching the pinnacle of 800 international wickets is unquestionably a story worth telling but it needs to be seen if the producers of the movie can secure the services of an actor that doesn’t hurt the sentiments of Tamils.