Teejay and Vijay Sethupathi
Teejay and Vijay Sethupathi

Teejay Arunasalam declines part in ‘800’, cites political grounds

Teejay actor was approached to play the younger version of Muttiah Muralitharan, but declined as he didn’t agree with the politics of the film.

Vijay Sethupathi’s upcoming sports biopic 800, based on Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, has garnered a lot of attention before its release, and not all of it is positive. The film, directed by MS Sripathy, has become a bone of contention in the Tamil community of India as well as Sri Lanka.

London-based actor and musician Teejay Arunasalam, known for his role as Dhanush's elder son in Vetrimaaran’s Asuran, became a favourite among audiences and critics for his performance. In an interview with the Times of India, he revealed that he was approached to play the younger version of Muttiah Muralitharan in 800. "When I was in India, the makers of 800 had approached me. I met the filmmaker in his office, and he told me the bits and bobs of the script. I was approached to play the younger version of Muralitharan, with the elder version to be played by Vijay Sethupathi sir. The war between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamils is depicted in the biopic and it did not sound right to me. My mother is an Eelam Tamil. There was a lot of cruelty involved in the war and I did not want to get involved in the politics of the film’s narrative. So, I eventually told them no."

The first-look poster of the film was launched recently, amidst protests online against Vijay Sethupathi for representing a Sri Lankan cricketer in this biopic. The hashtag #ShameOnVijaySethupathi started trending on Twitter. Tamil users also slammed Vijay, saying that he is not being ‘ethical’ and ‘not thankful to Tamil people who praised him as Makkal Chelvan’.

Later, makers of the film issued an official statement explaining that this film will not make any political statement favouring any community. “This film is intended to be an inspiration for the younger 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 will belittle the struggles of Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka or hurt their sentiments in any way. On a positive note, the film will engage the Tamil film community in Sri Lanka, providing the artists and technicians a platform to showcase their talents on a global stage. Art is beyond boundaries; it unites people all across. Artists belong to the world,” the statement said.

800 is to be bankrolled by Dar Motion Pictures in association with Movie Train Motion Pictures, and will be shot in Tamil. However, the makers have plans to have it dubbed in all south Indian languages, as well as Hindi, Bengali, and Sinhalese. An international version of the film with English subtitles is also being planned. Rajisha Vijayan, who is playing the leading lady in Dhanush’s upcoming film Karnan, will reportedly be playing the female lead in the biopic too.

(Content provided by Digital Native)

Watch 800 motion poster here:

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