Actor Vijay Sethupathi pulls out of cricketer Muraleedharan’s biopic ‘800’

Published : October 19, 2020 20:18 IST

Actor Vijay Sethupathi. Photo: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

Actor Vijay Sethupathi has announced that he was pulling out of the biopic of cricketer Muthiah Muraleedharan, after the cricket legend himself appealed to Sethupathi, in the face of protests from Tamil nationalist elements in Tamil Nadu. “Nandri, vanakkam,” said Sethupathi in a tweet, signalling the end of his engagement with the movie. He later clarified that he was out of the venture.

Earlier today, Muraleedharan had tweeted a letter, saying that there had been some unfortunate controversy over his biopic. “I am aware of the fact that based on some peoples’ misunderstanding about me, there is massive pressure on Vijay Sethupathi to pull out from this movie. An outstanding actor in Tamil Nadu should not be affected because of me. Not just this, I also wish that there are no hurdles before Vijay Sethupathi in the future. I hence request Vijay Sethupathi to withdraw from the project.”

The Tamil nationalist fringe elements, which had some support from Tamil Nadu’s mainstream, demanded that Vijay Sethupathi drop ‘800,’ the movie in which he is scheduled to act as Muraleedharan, because the cricketer had allegedly made some insensitive comments about the killing of the northern Tamils in the last stages of the Eelam war in 2009, and was not sympathetic to the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Muraleedharan, a plantation Tamil, had nothing in common with the northern or eastern Tamils – a fact repeatedly acknowledged by Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka.

The mainstream players who came out in support of the demand included lyricist Vairamuthu, director Bharatiraaja and Dravidar Kazhagam president K.Veeramani. None of them have so far voiced any opposition to the fact that Muraleedharan is Mentor of the Sun Risers Hyderabad team, which is owned by the Maran brothers. One of the brothers, Dayanidhi Maran, is a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

Most of the protests are from people who are clueless about the Tamil politics in the island nation. Muraleedharan is a plantation Tamil. He grew up in utter poverty, and broke into the Sinhala dominated cricket scene in Colombo because of his sheer ability. There is no other Tamil who has managed to achieve what he has.

During the war years, and before, when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam held sway over the north and east of Sri Lanka, the plantation Tamils were not on its radar. In fact, in the rare press conference that LTTE supremo V. Prabharakarn held, it was clear that the LTTE had not fought for the plantation Tamils. The plantation Tamils had to cut their deals with the Sinhala polity to survive, he said. Naturally, most plantation Tamils distanced themselves from the northern and eastern Tamils during the war years – as did the Tamil-speaking Muslims. Later, some northern Tamils held both Muslims and plantation Tamils as “traitors” to the cause of Tamils.

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