‘800' controversy: Actor Sarathkumar comes out in support of Vijay Sethupathi

The veteran actor pointed out that the movie world will lose its freedom if curtailed in this manner.
‘800' controversy: Actor Sarathkumar comes out in support of Vijay Sethupathi
‘800' controversy: Actor Sarathkumar comes out in support of Vijay Sethupathi
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While most members of the South Indian Artists' association have maintained a radio silence on the controversy surrounding actor Vijay Sethupathi's upcoming biopic 800, actor-turned-politician Sarathkumar has chosen to support a performer's freedom of choice. The veteran actor pointed out that the movie world will lose its freedom if curtailed in this manner and said that Vijay Sethupathi has the right to choose to play Muthiah Muralidaran.

On Saturday, Sarathkumar, who is the founder of All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi, said that political interference and opposition in the art field is not right. "One should not damn actors. They have the right to choose a character. The movie world will lose its freedom if there are demands that an actor should act only like this and in certain roles," Sarathkumar said.

On Friday, Congress party's Lok Sabha member Karti P Chidambaram said it is wrong to bully Tamil movie actor Sethupathi not to act in 800.

"I condemn the brutality of the Sri Lankan army against the Tamils. The Sri Lankan Tamils should get their rights in Sri Lanka. And the Sri Lankan Tamil issue should also be divorced from the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)," Karti Chidambaram told IANS. In a tweet, Karti Chidambaram said: "Will the fringe, of all spectrums, start deciding which actor can act as which character in any movie?Will they also decide on whom movies can be made? Perhaps they should issue an "advisory" on historic and mythological characters that can and cannot be portrayed and by whom (sic)."

Earlier actor Radhikaa Sarathkumar had tweeted: "#muthaiyamuralitharan biopic &asking @VijaySethuOffl not to act do these people hav no work??why not ask @SunRisers why he is the head coach, team belongs to a Tamilian with political affiliations? VSP (Vijay Sethupathi) is an actor, and do not curb an actor...(sic)"

"The owners of #Sunrisers, & #SunTV, though they have political affiliations, all these decades they could distinctly & professionally handle politics, sports & entertainment with due credits. Why not our film industry look at entertainment away from political view point (sic)," she said.

"my intention of that tweet was not to create any room for controversies but was to support the film industry and the connected artists within prejudices. That's why I brought in #Sunrisers name as a testimony of non biased, neutral and professional approach," she later added.

A controversy has arisen over Tamil movie actor Sethupathi agreeing to play the lead role in Sri Lankan spinner of Tamil origin Muttiah Muralidaran’s biopic. Parties that are sympathetic to the LTTE such as the MDMK, the Nam Tamilar Katchi and some others in the movie field have urged Sethupathi to drop himself from the movie project citing Muralidaran's political stance.

The Sri Lankan spinner Muralidaran, a Tamil by birth, has taken 800 test wickets and hence the movie is named 800. The opposition is due to Muralidaran's remarks which are in favour of Sri Lanka's ruling regime. According to Muralidaran, his views were twisted for political reasons.

The founder of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) S Ramadoss in a statement said Sethupathi will become part of Tamil Eelam history if he drops out of the movie or else will be seen as a betrayer. Similarly, MDMK General Secretary Vaiko has also asked Sethupathi not to accept the role.

The leader of Naam Tamilar Katchi Seeman, while urging Sethupathi to drop the movie, added that 800 may be released in Colombo but not in Tamil Nadu. Seeman said Muralidaran supported the Sinhalese in the Lankan elections.

Noted Tamil movie Director Bharathirajaa, terming Muralidaran as 'a betrayer of Lankan Tamils,' urged Sethupathi not to play the Lankan spinner in his biopic and decline the role. Bharathirajaa said when Tamils were being killed by the Sinhalese regime, Muralidaran supported that.

Even though the movie's producers, Dar Motion Pictures, have said the biopic would focus on Muralidaran's cricketing life and achievements, it cannot avoid the internal strife and the upheavals the island nation witnessed during his early days and how the cricketer survived and came up, a senior journalist, not wanting to be quoted, told IANS.

The shooting for the movie is expected to begin in March 2021. The movie would be shot in India, Sri Lanka, England and Australia among other locations. Given Muralidaran's popularity as an international spinner, the producers are planning to dub the movie in Hindi, Bengali, Sinhalese and also have English subtitles.

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