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Muttiah Muralitharan broke his silence on the controversy over his biopic 800 announced recently. The Sri Lankan legend clarified that his comments related to the civil war were ‘twisted’ for 'political reasons. The highest wicket-taking bowler stated that it was ‘anguishing’ to hear the statements, and asserted that the film was about his success as a cricketer amid the numerous challenges of his life.
Netizens had trended hashtags like ‘Shame on Vijay Sethupathi’ after the Tamil film actor agreed to play the role in the movie. Twitterati had felt that Muralitharan had made statements denying the ‘genocide of Tamils’ in the war, amid his support for the ruling Rajapaksa family, that oversaw the end of the war with Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.
Muralitharan wrote that he was hesitant to do the film when offered but then realised that it was a good platform to showcase the role played by his parents, coaches and teammates in his success.
"We have been severely affected," the ex team Sri Lanka cricketer said over the controversy.
Muralithan expressed his displeasure over him being accused of being ‘against the Tamils’. "Some people out of ignorance and some for political reasons are portraying me as against the Tamil race and it is anguishing."
The 48-year-old clarified his comment, made in 2019, saying 2009 was the ‘happiest year' of his life. He stated that people were twisting his statement to being ‘happiest’ about the ‘slaughter of Tamils’, as he asserted that he had never endorsed the killing of innocent people.
He recalled the sickle attack on his father when he was just seven years old and the death of many relatives, that left the family in poverty.
"Hence, I know the pain of war and the loss it causes. I have never supported the killings of innocent people and will never support that," he said.
On his statement about Tamil students having an 'inferiority complex', he said, "An inferiority complex is natural since we are a minority. I too had that complex since my parents had such a mindset. I made the remark with the intention of asking (students) to throw away their thought of inferiority and make efforts by reposing faith in their skills."
"The film 800 is about how I managed to find a place in the cricket team against such a background." He also denied that he did not know Tamil, and only used Sinhalese and English, by clarifying that he was educated in Tamil medium.
Stating that he viewed the Tamils from both countries equally, Muralitharan said he had helped the Eelam Tamils in education, women empowerment, healthcare and nurturing harmony.
The legend, who is currently a bowling coach for Hyderabad team in the Dream11 IPL, stated that he was being projected wrongly because he was a part of the Sri Lankan cricket team. He stated that had he been born in India, he’d have tried to join the Indian team. He asked if it was his ‘fault’ that he was born as a ‘Sri Lankan Tamil’ and that the controversy caused him ‘pain’. Despite knowing that his critics won’t be pleased with his statement, he felt sharing this statement was important for the others.
(With PTI inputs)
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