Muttiah Muralidharan is arguably the greatest off-spinner of all time much revered in the cricketing community. An Indian origin Tamil he has been largely painted as a traitor due to his stand against war and there have been several allegations against him that he opposed the LTTE and supported the Rajapakshe government that decimated the organization. He is also said to have turned a blind eye to the mass genocide of the Tamil Eelam people after the civil war ended in 2009.
Last week Muralidharan’s biopic titled ‘800’ was announced with Vijay Sethupathi playing the lead role and the posters and motion poster showed that the actor has admirably transformed into the cricketer with looks and body language that excited movie lovers. On the other hand Vijay Sethupathi has received severe backlash for accepting the role and even seniors of Tamil cinema such as Bharathiraja, Vairamuthu, Seeman and Seenu Ramasamy along with political leaders warned VJS to withdraw from the film or face consequences. A hashtag #ShameonVijaySethupathi trended nation wide and the continuation of the film has been put in a shadow of doubt.
Muralidharan who is currently coaching the Sun Risers Hyderabad team in UAE for the IPL 2020 has written a lengthy statement in Tamil in which he has explained his stand. He has stated that his parents were coolie workers in an estate in the hills of Sri Lanka and it was these Indian origin Tamils who were worst affected by the civil war. He has explained that every day he has grown in an uncertain atmosphere, seen relatives and school friends die and lives destroyed and he was against war irrespective of whether it is Indian origin Tamils, Eelam Tamils of Sinhalese who are affected.
Murali has gone of to add that in spite of this war and strife-ridden background his passion for cricket is what made his forge ahead in his life and he does not see his life as that of an individual but that of his people. When the makers of ‘800’ approached him for the biopic that is why he agreed to the project as it would inspire young sportsmen to achieve in times of grave adversity.
Murali has further added that it has been painted that he does not know to speak Tamil while on the contrary his basic education has been in Tamil medium and he is fluent in the language. In 2019 when he was asked which was the best time in his life he had said that 2009 because the war ended that year and peace returned but never meant the defeat of the LTTE.
The cricket legend has also clarified that he never tried to support human genocide and never will and that people saying he has not helped Tamils is also false. According to Murali under his Foundation of Goodness, he has been helping the Eelam Tamils the most in child and women empowerment and other schemes. He also conducts Murali Harmony Cup in the North and South of the island nation to promote cricket among the Tamil people.
Murali has also pointed out that he played cricket for Sri Lanka because he was born there and if he had been in India he would have played for that country and it is not his fault. He has also made it clear that his opposers will not heed to any of his reasoning but he wanted his fans and the neutral persons to know that he has been targetted and his image tarnished with lies.