Muttiah Muralitharan opens up on biopic row: ‘I’m perceived wrongly as I was part of Sri Lankan cricket team’
‘How I managed to join the cricket team and tasted success despite living amid the Sri Lankan war is what 800 is all about,” Muttiah Muralitharan says of his biopic
Legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan on 16 October issued a statement against people opposing Vijay Sethupati’s portrayal of the cricketer in the upcoming movie 800.
In a statement issued in Tamil, Muralitharan spoke about living through the Sri Lankan civil war as a Tamil.
According to The New Indian Express, the criticism against the movie, with many political parties and fringe Tamil outfits urging Vijay to drop out from the film, surrounds Muralitharan’s view as an ‘apologist’ for ‘genocide’ based on comments he made and his support for Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is accused of war crimes.
Muralitharan revealed he was first hesitant when producers approached him to make a movie on his life, but later thought that the film might be the right opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of his parents, teachers, coaches, and co-players in his success.
The legendary cricketer claimed that when the civil war first broke out, it was Malayaga Tamils, with an Indian-lineage, who were the first ones to be affected, stating that he knows by experience the horrors and pains that are caused by the war.
“We lived amid war in Sri Lanka for more than 30 years. And how I managed to join the cricket team and tasted success despite these circumstances is what 800 is all about,” he went on to state.
In his statement, Muralitharan has said that his words have been twisted to show him in a bad light. He referred to a statement he made in 2019 when he said that 2009 was the best year of his life, his words are twisted into meaning the year Tamilians were slaughtered was the happiest year in his life.
He elaborated that people had to perceive his comments as a person who lived through the uncertainty of war. School friends he played with could be dead the next day, and people who left home might never return. Since the end of the civil war gave him a sense of security, he had said 2009 was the happiest in his life.
“I have never supported the killing of innocent people and will never support it,” he stressed Muralitharan and further rubbished allegations he did not know Tamil.
The cricketer revealed he sees no difference among Sri Lankans, Eelam Tamils, and Malayaga Tamils and also mentioned how he helps the Eelam Tamil community through the charity Foundation of Goodness.
“I am perceived wrongly just because I was part of the Sri Lankan cricket team. If I had born in India, I would have tried to be part of the Indian cricket team. Is it my mistake that I was born a Sri Lankan Tamil?” the cricketer questioned as he concluded his statement.
Production house DAR Motion Pictures had released a statement a few days earlier, clarifying that 800 is purely a sports biographical film and does not make any political statements favouring any community. The film is directed by MS Sripathy, who has co-written the film alongside Shehan Karunatilaka, author of Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew. Muralidaran is also attached as producer via Movie Train Motion Pictures. Rajisha Vijayan will essay the role of the cricketer’s wife Madhimalar.
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