“Do you want your face to be forever associated with a racist person and be looked at with hatred by people?” he has asked Vijay Sethupathi in his letter.

Bharathiraja and Vijay Sethupathi collage
news Controversy Thursday, October 15, 2020 - 15:21

There’s a fierce on-going opposition to actor Vijay Sethupathi’s upcoming biopic titled 800 on the life of Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, and the latest to express his opinion on the topic is director Bharathiraja. In an open letter addressed to Vijay Sethupathi, Bharathiraja has placed a request to the star, 'on behalf of Tamil people living across the world'. “Do you want your face to be forever associated with a racist person and be looked at with hatred by people?” he has asked Vijay Sethupathi in his letter.

“Somehow try and 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,” he writes.

Taking a direct shot at the cricketer, Bharathiraja has said, “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.”

Bharathiraja has also addressed a press note issued on Wednesday by Dar Motion Pictures, the producer of the movie. The production house issued a clarification, stating that the film was purely a sports biography and that it is being politicised.

To this, Bharathiraja had said, “To you Muttiah may be a great sportsman. To us he is the traitor of a race. Tamil people never forget traitors. One revolutionary’s loss cannot be compensated even if 100 Muttiahs come.”

The director goes on to add that the production house should instead come forward to make biopics on Tamil Eelam revolutionaries such as Thileepan. If that were to happen, the whole Tamil people in the film industry will wait to work for free, he concludes.

The biopic, ever since it was announced has attracted sharp criticism from many on social media. Several users have alleged that Muttiah Muralitharan, an Indian-origin cricket player, is a supporter of the Sri Lankan government that is accused of Tamil genocide. The heated argument on social media and from other quarters is that Muttiah’s life should not be glossed over as just a sports hero and that actor Vijay Sethupathi in particular, a popular star among Tamil film fans, should not take up the project.

Muttiah Muralitharan 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.

“Tell me, if there is a problem within your family, do your neighbours interfere? Tamil Nadu politicians do not understand the problems of Sri Lankans. They should allow our government to get on with governance. I support President Rajapaksa because he is the right person to lead our country. Over the years before he came to power, there was no progress. The economy was down, nothing was moving. President Rajapaksa is an administrator, a former Defence Secretary and army man. He is a clever person who will carry out reforms, strike a different path, improve lives and do the right thing," he said in an interview with Hindustan Times.

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