As outrage builds over Vijay Sethupathi’s latest film on controversial Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, the production company behind the film released a statement on Wednesday pledging not to “belittle the struggles of Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka or hurt their sentiments in any way”.
Dar Motion Pictures, the company behind the controversial ‘800’ biopic, however went on to claim that the film is “purely a sports biography” and “does not make any political statement favouring any community”.
Instead they claimed that the film would showcase “the legendary cricketer Muthiah Muralidaran”.
Though Muralitharan is an ethnic Tamil, he has been a long-standing supporter of Sinhala extremists, including backing Gotabaya Rajapaksa for presidency last year. Previously Murali stated “did not have any problems as a Tamil”, and even claimed that former British prime minister David Cameron had been “misled” over reports of rights abuses faced by Tamils. He has also compared Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya's older brother and former president who also stand accused of war crimes, to Nelson Mandela.
Muralitharan with war crimes accused Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Those behind the film have faced a growing backlash, with Tamils from across the world expressing their protest using the hashtag #ShameonVijaySethupathi, calling on him to drop the film. Voices from across Tamil Nadu and the Kollywood film industry have also called on the film to be halted, with fears that it will be a celebration of a man who supports war criminals.