Muttiah Muralitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan
Photo Credit: IANS

Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan's biopic titled "800" has already become a controversial topic, mainly for political parties from Tamil Nadu who are urging Vijay Sethupathi, the actor portraying Muralitharan, to refuse the role.

The Sri Lankan spinner Muralitharan, a Tamil by birth has taken 800 test wickets and hence the movie is named as "800".

However, the opposition is due to Muralitharan's utterings which are in favour of the Sri Lanka's ruling regime.

So, what exactly is Tamil political parties issues with Muralitharan's biopic?

The leader of Naam Tamilar, Katchi Seeman said Muralitharan supported the Sinhalese in the Lankan elections. And that is a problem because the Sri Lankan government, which is predominantly ruled by the Sinhalese, is known historically for oppressing the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Also, as the poster made rounds on social media, scores of netizens, especially fans of the Tamil actor, slammed the idea of Vijay essaying the role of a Sri Lankan and began trending the hashtag #ShameOnVijaySethupathi on Twitter.

Fans of the actor believe it is disgraceful for a Tamil actor to play the role of a Sinhalese cricketer.

Even the famous Tamil movie Director, Bharathiraja, termed Muralitharan as betrayer of Lankan Tamils and urged Sethupathi not to play the Lankan spinner in his biopic and decline the role.

Bharathiraja said when Tamils were being killed by the Sinhalese regime, Muralitharan supported that.

However, Muralitharan has issued a statement regard the recent controversy around his biopic. The cricketer believes that his statements were twisted and asks whether is it his fault that he was born in Sri Lanka.

"In 2019 I had said 2009 was the best year of my life. They have twisted it to mean that I referred to the year when the Tamil genocide took place,” Muralitharan wrote in a letter.

"Isn’t it natural for someone to feel the relief when the war ends? I made that statement keeping in mind that for the past 10 years we have not had any loss of lives. I never supported the killing of innocent lives, I never will.

"According to me, Sinhalese, hill-country Tamils and Eelam Tamils are all the same. As a hill-country Tamil man, I have helped the Eelam Tamils more than I have my own people. It may not sound right to count all that one has done, but today I am forced to do that.

"There is a wrong opinion on me just because I played for the Sri Lankan team and won laurels. If I were born in India, I would have tried to be a part of the Indian team. Is it my fault having been born as a Sri Lankan Tamil?"

Coming back to the film, it will be shot in Sri Lanka, UK, Australia and India. The shoot is slated to start at the beginning of 2021 and is set to release at the end of next year.

It will be made primarily in Tamil language. However, owing to Muralitharan and Sethupathi's popularity, the film will also be dubbed in all South Indian languages as well as Hindi, Bengali and Sinhalese. An international version with English subtitles is also being planned.

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