'800': Amid controversy, Vijay Sethupathi walks out of Muralitharan biopic
Tamil actor Vijay Sethupathi has opted out of the movie 800, a biopic on former Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan. The film has been mired in controversy, with Sethupathi being subjected to criticism for his association with the project. Sethupathi confirmed his decision to quit the movie through a tweet earlier today. Here are more details on this.
The controversy around the movie began as soon as Sethupathi's involvement with it was announced. This happened because Muralitharan is a controversial public figure among Tamilians, due to his support for Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was the Sri Lankan President during the civil war that gripped the island country for nearly 30 years. The war had largely affected Malayaga Tamils, who are of Indian origin.
Sethupathi's casting as Muralitharan became a topic of heated debate among film personalities as well as political leaders. Film director Bharathiraja, in a letter addressed to Sethupathi, called Muralitharan a "traitor," asking the 42-year-old rising star to avoid the movie. However, many also came out in the actor's support. Lok Sabha member Karti P Chidambaram said it was wrong to bully Sethupathi.
In a letter, Muralitharan said that "due to misconception," several people were pressing Sethupathi to drop out of the movie. "I do not want one of the finest actors in Tamil Nadu to face any kind of trouble," he said, requesting the actor to quit the project. Posting Muralitharan's statement on Twitter, Sethupathi wrote, "Thank you and goodbye."
Muralitharan had earlier addressed criticism around the movie, saying he was accused of being against Tamils for "political reasons" and out of "ignorance." "I know the pain of war and the loss it causes. I've never supported the killings of innocent people," he had said.
"I accepted this biopic because I thought the movie will inspire and provide confidence to aspiring young cricketers. I am sure that the makers will overcome these hurdles. They have promised me that they will make an announcement regarding this soon," Muralitharan added. Considered one of the most successful bowlers in international cricket, Muralitharan was the first to take 800 wickets in Test cricket.
Produced by Dar Motion Pictures and directed by MS Sripathy, the film was to be shot across Sri Lanka, UK, Australia and India in early 2021. It was planned to be released by the end of next year.