Popular Tamil actor Vijay Sethupathi is facing massive backlash from audience in the state and criticism from politicians and film industry veterans for signing up to play the lead role in the Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan biopic ’800′.
The Rajapaksa government is accused of war crimes and human rights abuse during the 26-year civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
There is deep distrust of the Rajapaksa family within the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.
Veteran Tamil filmmaker Bharathirajaa was one of the first to publicly criticise Vijay Sethupathi’s decision to play Muralitharan, saying “The Tamil race will never forgive betrayers”.
“Muttiah Muralitharan was fiddling when Tamil children were dying, and he had fully endorsed the Sinhalese racist attitude. What is the use of achieving much in sports when you had laughed at the plight of your own race? Do you want your face to be associated forever with a man who had backstabbed his own race and be looked at with hatred by people?” he said.
Bharathirajaa also said that if Sethupathi avoided acting in the movie he would be remembered with gratitude by the Tamil people everywhere.
The actor’s announcement of his participation in the project divided Tamil social media with several slamming the actor for reprising the career of the cricketer while others extended supported.
The actor also faced backlash from many in the Tamil film industry.
Director Cheran tweeted, “Tamils from all over the world don’t want you to be a part of 800... This film is not bigger...