Since Kollywood actor Vijay Sethupathi's Muttiah Muralitharan's biopic titled ‘800’ was announced, the hashtag #ShameOnVijaySethupathi has been trending.
Several took to social media platforms to criticise the actor who will be playing the Sri Lankan cricketer on screen.
Speaking about the collaboration, Vijay Sethupathi had said in an interview, "I am happy to be associated with the Muthiah Muralitharan biopic. He is an iconic sportsman of Tamil origin and someone who has made his mark across the world. Portraying the role of Murali is going to be a challenge and I am quite excited for it.”
However, several netizens have expressed strong opposition as the Indian-origin cricket player, is a supporter of the Sri Lankan government that was responsible for killing thousands of Tamils and treating them as minorities in the country.
‘Drop the Film:’ Kollywood Celebrities Urge Him
In an open letter addressed to Vijay Sethupathi, director Bharathiraja has appealed to the star, “Do you want your face to be forever associated with a racist person and be looked at with hatred by people?”
He urged the actor to ‘avoid being a part of this biopic on the life of a person who hates the Tamil.’
"“If you do, you will forever be looked at with gratitude in the hearts of people from Eelam and myself.”" - Director Bharathiraja
“When our children from Eelam died Muttiah played the fiddle. He completely supported Sri Lankan racism. No matter how much he may have achieved as a cricket player, what use are those when he laughed and enjoyed when our people died? How many betrayals have our people overcome. According to us, Muttiah Muralitharan too is a betrayer,” the letter read.
Director and actor Cheran tweeted to the actor that, “This film is not bigger than the people who made you live. Brother .. Leave it. There are many characters out there which can bring out the performer in you (sic).”
Director Seenu Ramasamy requested the actor not to be a part of the film. “Sethupathi’s another film, Yaathum Oorey Yaavarum Kelir, will touch the hearts of Eelam Tamils and make people proud,” his tweet read.
Lyricist Thamarai pointed out that had he been just a cricketer, there would be no objection.
“In fact, when his playing in the team was criticised during his early years, LTTE's chief Prabhakaran had said, 'Let's not hinder him from playing cricket. Let's take it as one of our boys playing the game'. But then, he became a Sinhalese politician. He became the loudspeaker to Rajapakse who was killing Tamils by the dozen. When Tamil blood was being spilled on Mullivaikkal, he rejoiced terming it as a good day. And he described the laments of Tamil mothers who were searching for their lost children as 'drama'. How could a professional actor like you fail to realise the fact that he was playing a role in the drama staged by the Sri Lankan government to hide its genocide? (sic)," his letter read.
Every year on 18 May, Mullivaikkal Day is observed to pay homage to thousands of Srilankan Tamils who were brutally killed, in a tiny strip of land in Mullivaikkal, Mullaitivu in 2009.
Actor Vivek during a tree plantation drive on the occasion of APJ Abdul Kalam's 89th birth anniversary, commented, “Someone who is loved by people needs to know what people want.”
‘Film Does Not Make Any Political Statement’
Many users have alleged that the actor cannot glorify a person who had campaigned in favour of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was the Defence Secretary when the LTTE was dealt a death blow by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.
The production house, Dar Motion Pictures, issued a clarification, stating that the film was purely a sports biography and that it is being politicised.
“The film does not make any political statement favouring any community. The film is intended to be an inspiration for the young generation to achieve their dreams irrespective of the difficulties they come across in their journey. We as the Producers assure that this film will not showcase any scenes that would belittle the struggles of Eelam Tamils in Srilanka or hurt their sentiments in any way," read the statement.
‘Don’t Hurt Tamils’ Sentiments:’ Netizens
Netizens slammed the actor for choosing to portray the cricketer’s life and said ‘he will regret this decision.’
Forget & forgive people and move forward..!! My ass..!! This guy doesn't have a spine..!! @VijaySethuOffl u will regret acting hia movie..!! #ShameOnVijaySethupathi #Tamils_Boycott_VijaySethupathi pic.twitter.com/BuVp2eEssQ— karthick keyan (@karthic99761680) October 13, 2020
A user has even started a petition on Change.org, asking the actor to ‘not play with Tamils’ emotions.’
A few, however, did come in support of Vijay Sethupathi, saying he is a ‘great actor’ and ‘if an English man can do Gandhi, why shouldn’t an Indian do Muttiah.’
Shame on people who trend #ShameOnVijaySethupathi It is his own decision to do a biopic of anyone. Since he does a biopic who isn't belong to your region doesn't means he is worthless.— dharaneesh (@dharu29) October 13, 2020
If you are supporter of particular region, better be in your home itself. #ShameofYOU
. Read more on Entertainment by The Quint.Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For You‘Don’t Hurt Tamil Sentiments:’ Actor Vijay Sethupathi Slammed . Read more on Entertainment by The Quint.