In a sharp-worded reply to certain Tamil cinema personalities chiding actor Vijay Sethupathi for accepting to profile Muttiah Muralitharan in a biopic, the celebrated spinner has asserted his identity as a Sri Lankan who looks beyond ethnic lines and who has shined on the global stage despite grisly domestic conditions torn by war and ethnic strife.
“As far as I’m concerned, the mountain Tamils (Indian-origin Tamil-speaking settlers), Eelam Tamils, and the Sinhalas are the same. My contributions for the development of the Eelam Tamils is much more than what I’ve done for my own — the Mountain Tamils," said Muralitharan in a statement.
He also laid bare the stark nature of his childhood: “There was no surety that the boy I played with at school will return the next day. Those stepping out of the house seldom had any assurance that they would return home. My father was greivously assaulted. Many of my relatives have perished," he writes.
The statement follows several outcries in the Tamil film industry, including senior filmmaker Bharathiraja, lyricists Vairamuthu and Thamarai. There was a mild nudge from comedian Vivek telling Sethupathi to “understand the sentiments of people who love him.”
There were others, such as actor Radikaa Sarathkumar, who rose to his defense.
From Muralitharan’s perspective, his statement of clarification was meant for the public at large and neutral onlookers who must have seen a “stream of criticism" aimed at him.
He also clarified about a statement he made last year. “There has been a distortion of my opinion expressed last year. I had said that 2009 was when I enjoyed the happiest day of my life. I had said this last year and this was made out as though the massacre of Eelam Tamils was a happy development for Muthaiah Muralitharan. You should please try to understand that I had made that statement as an expression of relief that there have not been any loss of life on both sides over the last 10 years."