World renowned Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, well-known among Sri Lankans as ‘Murali’, in a statement issued recently emphasised that he has never supported killing of innocent people and will never do so in the future either.
He issued this statement in response to objections expressed by certain groups based in Tamil Nadu, India, and members of the Tamil Diaspora, against his upcoming biopic titled ‘800’. These groups had alleged that Muralitharan was against the Tamil people, and that people should therefore boycott Muralitharan’s upcoming biopic.
Expressing his disproval and the pain caused by baseless allegations levelled by the above mentioned groups, Muralitharan further said that their accusations are based on political reasons and ignorance. He also said that Hill Country Tamil people in Sri Lanka, which includes himself, were one of the first victims of violence that broke out in Sri Lanka.
According to several Indian news websites, certain Indian politicians have alleged that Muralitharan has been identified as a ‘betrayer of the Tamil race’ for supporting former President and incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who took the initiative to bring to an end the war between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka in 2009. Those who have objected said that producing a cinema creation on behalf of a sportsman of a country where Tamil people were murdered has to be opposed.
It was also recently reported that upon a request made by Muralitharan, Indian actor Vijay Sethupathi, who was to star in Muralitharan’s biopic titled 800, had decided to opt out of the movie. Muralitharan had made this request taking into account the opposition expressed by the above mentioned groups, which has high likelihood of negatively affecting Sethupathi’s acting career. According to Muralitharan, his biopic will be based on his sports career and the hardships he went through to be a successful cricketer.
In his statement, Muralitharan said that the main focus of his biopic is how he, as a Tamil, managed to break cricket records while facing difficult situations due to conflicts in Sri Lanka. However, the groups opposing Muralitharan’s biopic appear to have twisted the movie in a bid to gain narrow political advantages and to support their agendas which predominantly involve Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. Most importantly, the statements made by Indian politicians and the Tamil Diaspora supporting the LTTE, against this movie, show that their arguments are focused more on supposed opinions about Muralitharan’s personal and political views, instead of the actual nature of the movie.
According to Muralitharan, those opposing this movie have, in fact, taken out of context certain statements made by him in order to give an inaccurate impression about him. A statement made by Muralitharan in 2019 where he said that 2009 was the happiest year of his life had been misinterpreted by these groups to portray as if Muralitharan supported the wiping out of the LTTE on the last day of the war. According to Muralitharan, what he truly tried to say when he made the above-mentioned statement was that he felt safe as the end of the war had stopped deaths on both sides.
The war came to an end in 2009. However, that is not to say that extremism and separatism promoted by the LTTE ended. There are still people, especially members of the Tamil Diaspora, who are trying to promote and keep alive the separatist ideologies created by the LTTE. In a context where they should have been happy about the fact that a movie is being made to celebrate the achievements of a world renowned Tamil cricketer, tarnishing his name to support their separatist agendas clearly shows that they are prepared to do anything to attain their objectives, even if it means damaging the character of their own countryman. Separatist ideologies influenced by the LTTE are still alive, and this is a sign that Sri Lankans should think more about uniting and living as one nation than before.