Why a biopic on cricketer Muralitharan has upset some Tamils in India?


Team Udayavani, Oct 27, 2020, 3:15 PM IST

The announcement of a biopic on legendary off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has caused a heated controversy in Tamil Nadu.

Amid this, Muttiah Muralitharan has issued a statement that he has requested actor Vijay Sethupathi to withdraw from 800, the biopic on the cricketer’s life.

“Because of the misunderstanding regarding me, there has been tremendous pressure on Vijay Sethupathi. I don’t want an excellent artiste 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,” Muralitharan said.

The Controversy

Tamil fringe groups and some political parties allege that Muralitharan was a betrayer of the Tamil people and supported the then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during the 2009 civil war

Though Muralitharan is a Tamil from Sri Lanka, he is of Indian origin, His ancestors went to Sri Lanka during the British rule to work in the tea, coffee and rubber plantations during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

As reported by Scroll, Muralitharan had continuously faced accusations of not doing enough to help the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka, both during the civil war and in its aftermath.

Bharathiraja, a famous Tamil film director with Tamil nationalist sympathies, wrote an open letter to the actor Sethupathy, claiming that Muralitharan was a traitor of the Tamil race.

While people such as Congress MP Karti P Chidambaram, actor-turned-politician and founder of All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi R Sarathkumar and his wife and actor Radhikaa Sarathkumar had voiced their support for Sethupathi, the Tamil movie world was largely silent.

As reported by Indian Express, Recently, Muralidharan issued a statement regarding the issue which said, “There have been many allegations levelled against me that I supported genocide. For instance, when I made a statement in 2019 that 2009 was the best year of my life, it was misconstrued that I was celebrating the genocide of Eelam Tamils. As someone who has constantly spent his life in a conflict zone, the end of the war in 2009 was a welcome change. I was happy that there were no deaths on both sides in those ten years”

“I have never supported genocide, and I never will. As a minority community living in Sinhalese-majority Sri Lanka, Tamils battled low self-esteem. My parents considered themselves as second-class citizens and it was only natural that I too followed suit. After I succeeded in cricket, I wanted fellow Tamils to develop self-confidence and come up in life.”

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