Today’s Indian cinema aims at educating the public as much as entertaining people. Films like MS Dhoni and the soon releasing 83 talks about the lives of some of the greatest Indian cricketers, and the obstacles they faced before they became household names. These not only help to remove the underlying presumption that all these stars were privileged and have it easy, but also motivate people to be strong and face obstacles bravely.
The movie 800 is a Tamil biopic depicting the life of a Sri Lankan cricketer – Muttiah Muralitharan. The film is titled 800 because Muralitharan is the only cricketer known to have taken 800 wickets in Test Cricket. He was the first Sri Lankan cricketer to be introduced into the ICC Hall of Fame. It is rumored that the film will encapsulate the trials and tribulations of a person belonging to a minority who rose to fame in a civil war background and made a name for himself internationally.
The cricketer has faced his own share of ups and downs with the media, especially when he was accused of siding with the Sri Lankan government over the LTTE. Despite the fact that Muralitharan has tried to defend himself from these allegations using his own Tamil origins as a strong foothold and a reason to not go against the LTTE, many have pointed out that he has sided several times with the Sri Lankan government in the middle of the disagreement between Sri Lanka and the LTTE.
The power of the media trials must be noted here, as the cricketer has been accused of conspiring against Tamilians and the abuse meted out to them in Sri Lanka without any trial or any chance being given to him to prove his innocence in a court of law. When actor Vijay Sethupathi announced his decision to play the character of Muttiah Muralitharan in the cricketer’s biopic, the decision was met with consternation and outrage by the Indian public, on the grounds that Vijay Sethupathi should not shame Tamilians by playing a character who supported Tamilian genocide, which is not a proven fact yet.
People started tweets with tags purposely designed to shame the actor for his decision. The cricketer made a noble call when he aimed to deflect the hate being directed towards Vijay Sethupathi and requested him to opt-out of the making of the biopic to avoid the backlash of this decision. He further stated that no Tamilian artist should be denied a peaceful life due to the allegations leveled against the cricketer, no matter their truth or falsehood. The cricketer further stated that he has faced many ordeals in his life, (which is no secret to those who know the bare minimum about him) and will continue to defeat them while respecting the public sentiments.
It cannot be denied that there are many stories being circulated about the actor’s personal life and his involvement with the Sri Lankan government. However, one must also accept the fact that he is, ultimately, a highly accomplished and proficient player in his field, with many accolades to his name. A biopic about the same will surely be inspirational to cricketers all over the world.