A look back at the events that followed:
Vijay Sethupathi was announced as the lead actor playing Muttiah Muralitharan in the film 800, Soon later, he opted out of the film & here’s what happened.
It all started when Vijay Sethupathi announced on 8th of October that he’s going to play Muttiah Muralitharan in the biopic titled 800.
Heated debates & controversy on Twitter:
Soon after this announcement, Hashtag #ShameOnVijaySethupathi started trending. It got 1000s of tweets and retweets. Soon after a few days, Another hashtag started trending i.e. #BoycottVijaySethupathi. The point and the collective message of the tweets with this hashtag is that, The film has the potential to hurt Tamil sentiments and there were also a set of people arguing about why an Indian actor is playing a Srilankan in a biopic.
They believe that Muttiah Muralitharan was a betrayer of Tamil people as he chose to support the then Srilankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa during the 2009 civil war.
Reacting to this, Muralitharan said that, He never supported the killings of innocent people and would never do that.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu:
Parties, including the MDMK, PMK and veteran Tamil filmmaker Bharathirajaa were among those who had urged the actor to disassociate from the biopic.
Muralitharan’s intentions about the biopic:
The legendary sportsman said he agreed to a biopic on him as it would give enthusiasm and determination to future generations in addition to young cricketers and such an initiative too has confronted impediments.
The intentions of director & the team of movie:
The crew behind the film added that their intention was not to paint the portrait of a flawless hero. The film’s co-writer Shehan Karunatilaka said, they were more interested in the shades of grey that formed the part of the cricketer’s persona. Which means that, though he was considered a genius among large sections of cricket lovers, there was also the other, especially in Australia and England, who considered him a “bowling action illegitimate”.
Hero or otherwise, there was a section of people who didn’t want a film to be made about a cricketer who, they believe, did not support the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils.
The 2009 incident:
Critics pointed to an old video where Muralitharan described 2009 as the best year of his life, even though 2009 saw the peak of the Sri Lankan civil war being fought between the National Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Muralitharan alleged that his statements have been twisted to portray him in a bad light. “For example, in 2019, I had said that the year 2009 was the happiest year in my entire life. But, when people write, they claim that the year Tamilians were slaughtered was the happiest year in my life.”
Muralitharan latest statement:
“Because of the misunderstanding regarding me, there has been tremendous pressure on Vijay Sethupathi. I don’t want an excellent artist to suffer because of me. Considering his future career and the roadblocks he might face, I have requested him to withdraw from the project. Every time, I have handled the obstacles in my path and won. That is how I’ve reached this stage. This film would have served as an inspiration for future cricketers, and that is why I accepted to be a part of that. I am sure we will take it to them. A new announcement will be made shortly by the production house, and I stand by them. I thank all those who supported me during this time,”
Sharing this letter, Vijay Sethupathi said,
Thank you and good bye.
A new announcement is yet to be made by the production house about who will be replacing Vijay Sethupathi.
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