Muttiah Muralitharan's official statement on Vijay Sethupathi's '800' controversy

As the controversy over Vijay Sethupathi’s latest film 800 seems to be never-ending with many popular personalities from the Tamil film industry asking for boycott of the film, Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan has come out with a statement on the issue.

In the statement he says that his life has been marred by controversies and this is no different. “When the production house approached me for the film, I was first reluctant to give my nod. I then thought that the film would highlight the struggle of my parents, the contribution of my coaches and teachers and everyone who have been part of my journey. My family had its humble beginnings in a tea estate in Sri Lanka. The most affected in the 30-year long civil war in Sri Lanka were the Hill Country Tamils. Our life began in a conflict zone. The film ‘800’ talks about how I overcame all these hurdles and managed to succeed in cricket. Is it my fault that I was born a Sri Lankan Tamil? If I was born in India, I would have definitely tried to be part of the Indian team. Since I am part of the Sri Lankan team, I have always been misunderstood. An unnecessary controversy has erupted saying that I am against Tamils, thus giving the film, a political colour.”

On the allegations of his support to the Sri Lankan government, Murali said, “There have been many allegations levelled against me that I supported genocide. For instance, when I made a statement in 2019 that 2009 was the best year of my life, it was misconstrued that I was celebrating the genocide of Eelam Tamils. As someone who has constantly spent his life in a conflict-zone, the end of the war in 2009, was a welcome change. I was happy that there were no deaths on both sides in those ten years. I have never supported genocide, and I never will. As a minority community living in Sinhalese-majority Sri Lanka, Tamils battled low self- esteem. My parents considered themselves as second-class citizens and it was only natural that I too followed suit. After I succeeded in cricket, I wanted fellow Tamilians to develop self confidence and come up in life.”

Sharing the work he has done to support Eelam Tamils, Murali said, “I have not discriminated anyone on the basis of their race, be it Sinhalese, Eelam Tamils or Hill Country Tamils. When I was an ambassador at the UN in 2002, I introduced a number of schemes to school children in the hitherto LTTE-controlled areas and contributed to relief programmes in Tsunami-affected regions. Eelam Tamils are well aware of that. Through my NGO Foundation of Goodness, I have been providing my support to Eelam Tamils in children’s education and welfare of women. There is ample evidence to prove all this. I am not someone who talks about the philanthropic work I do.”