A biopic on Muttiah Muralitharan, entitled 800 – a reference to the number of wickets he has taken in Test cricket – has landed into controversy soon after the reveal of its first look.
Vijay Sethupati, who will be playing Murali’s character, hails from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He has been asked by many, including others in the film industry, to turn down the opportunity of playing the former Sri Lanka tweaker in the biopic, citing the reason that Muralitharan did not criticise the alleged oppression of Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka.
The journey begins! Here’s the official poster of #800TheMovie @VijaySethuOffl #MuthiahMuralidaran #MuralidaranBiopic @movietrainmp #MSSripathy #Vivekrangachari @rdrajasekar @SamCSmusic @proyuvraaj pic.twitter.com/WE2NRVTk7d
— Movie Train Motion Pictures (@MovieTrainMP) October 13, 2020
A section of fans even used #ShameonVijaySethupathi hashtags to express their displeasure.
Dar Motion Pictures, the movie’s production company, released a statement clarifying that 800 is a sports biography and “does not make any political statement favouring any community”.
“The film is a journey about a man who hails from the Tamil migrant community, going on to become the highest wicket-taker of all time” the statement read. “The film does not make any political statement favouring any community. The film is intended to be an inspiration for the younger generation to achieve their dreams irrespective of the difficulties they come across in their journey.
“We as the producers assure this film will not showcase any scenes that would belittle the struggles of Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka or hurt their sentiments in any way. On a positive note, the film will engage the Tamil film community in Sri Lanka providing the artists and technicians a platform to showcase their talents on a global stage. Art is beyond boundaries; it unites people all across. Artistes belong to the world. We wish to spread only the positivity, love and hope.”