“It is over!” That is how Vijay Sethupathi, one of the Tamil cinema’s finest actors, summed up his withdrawal from the lead role in the film 800, a biopic on veteran Sri Lankan spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan.
The role, for which the motion poster was released a few days ago, has been junked amid protests from sections of Tamil Nadu politicians, film world personalities and people, who saw the world record holding cricketer as a “betrayer” of the cause of the Island Nation’s ethnic Tamils.
Sethupathi’s formal announcement came shortly after Muralitharan in a statement issued from the UAE, requested the actor to withdraw from the project so he does not encounter problems in his cinema career. Within minutes of Muralitharan’s statement, Sethupathi had cited it and cryptically tweeted, “Nandri, Vanakkam” (meaning thank you and goodbye).
Later in the day, the actor, ironically a vocal supporter of the ethnic Tamil cause, confirmed he was opting out of the project.
In his second statement in less than a week, Muralitharan, who is in the UAE as bowling coach of the Sunrisers Hyderabad IPL team, said he did not want to be the reason for derailing the career of a great actor like Vijay Sethupathi. “Sethupathi should not encounter unnecessary obstacles in his career as an actor in future. Therefore, I request him to move away,” he said.
The former cricketer had last week contended his remarks on the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka — in which thousands of Tamil civilians were also killed — were misunderstood and he had undergone tremendous suffering as the child of a Tamil in Sri Lanka. On Monday, he said he never felt tired because of setbacks and had “won against all odds” to reach where he is today. Muralitharan said he had agreed to his biopic being made only because he felt it would inspire future generations of young cricketers. But it had run into trouble. “I hope this film will be made despite these hurdles,” he said, adding the production house has assured him that it would soon make an announcement. “I will stand by them for all their efforts,” he said.
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