Slowly voices have started to emerge in Tamil Nadu in support of actor Vijay Sethupathi donning the lead role in the movie ‘800’ a biopic of Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
However, the South Indian Artists’ Association popularly known as Nadigar Sangam, the body representing the interests of actors and many other actors who used to voice on various issues, is maintaining a studied silence on the issue.
On Saturday, actor-turned-politician and the founder of All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi R.Sarathkumar said political interference and opposition in the art field is not right.
In a statement, Sarathkumar, former head of the Nadigar Sangam, has come out in support of Tamil actor Vijay Sethupathi acting in the lead role in the Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan’s biopic ‘800’.
“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 of 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.”
Earlier actor Radhikaa Sarathkumar 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…”
“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,” 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 added.
A controversy has arisen over Tamil movie actor Sethupathi agreeing to play the lead role in Sri Lankan spinner of Tamil origin Muttiah Muralitharan’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 Muralitharan’s political stance.
The Sri Lankan spinner Muralitharan a Tamil by birth has taken 800 test wickets and hence the movie is named as “800”. He married a Chennai girl.
The opposition is due to Muralitharan’s utterings which are in favour of the Sri Lanka’s ruling regime. According to Muralitharan, 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 Muralitharan supported the Sinhalese in the Lankan elections. Noted Tamil movie Director Bharathirajaa, terming Muralitharan as 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, Muralitharan supported that. Even though the movie’s producers — Dar Motion Pictures — have said the biopic would focus on Muralithiran’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 Muralitharan’s popularity as an international spinner, the producers are planning to dub the movie in Hindi, Bengali, Sinhalese and also have English sub-titles.