A film that has become highly-debated of late, the recently-announced 'Makkal Selvan' Vijay Sethupathi starrer, 800, the biopic on Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan had its first look and motion poster released on Tuesday. However, the film has been mired in controversy, with people on social media calling for a boycott, while also urging Vijay Sethupathi to withdraw from the project. As opposition to the film, people are claiming that Muttiah is a supporter of the Sri Lankan government, which suppressed the LTTE (Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam), including being accused of genocide against the Tamil people.

Apart from the strong opposition from the people, legendary Tamil film director Bharathiraja too vehemently objected to 800 and requested Vijay Sethupathi to not act in the film. The makers of 800, Movie Train Motion Picture and Dar Pictures, too have since issued a clarification on the film saying it does not make any political statement favouring any community and is being made with the intention to be an inspiration for the younger generation by telling the story of the journey of a man hailing from the Tamil migrant community and eventually going on to become the highest wicket taker of all time.

Now, the man himself, Muttiah Muralitharan has broken his silence on the ongoing controversy surrounding 800 by issuing a detailed statement. He says, "A lot of controversies has emerged about my life and my affinity to the Tamil cause. At present, some unnecessary debates are going on around my biopic, 800. When the film's team approached me for my permission to make the biopic, initially I was hesitant. But, I agreed to the project since I felt this film will give recognition to many persons who are responsible directly and indirectly for my growth and achievement in the field of cricket - namely my parents, my teachers, coaches and friends and teammates."

He also said, "Our family started our survival as tea estate workers. For more than 30 years, we were leading our lives in the midst of gunshots and bullet sounds due to war. My family was also one of the victims in this war. We were impacted continuously due to the war, the violence that had taken place because of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and also serial blasts occuring here and there. I too am aware about the hardships and sufferings imposed on us due to war. In such a situation, I began playing cricket and got a berth in the Sri Lankan cricket team."

Muralitharan then states, "I made a comment in 2019 that the year 2009 was the happiest period in my life. What I actually meant was, the war has come to an end and both sides started leading a happy life, without getting subjected to wounds and pains. I made this statement because there was a ray of hope in a tunnel of darkness for all of us as the war had come to an end. For the last 10 years, there has been no bloodshed. I never supported death and grief due to war. I want to inform all those who say I don't know Tamil that it was my medium of instruction during my school days. People say Tamilians were suffering from inferiority complex. It is normal for any minority which is living in the midst of another group speaking another language. Inspite of all these negative situations, I decided to concentrate on my game and became a good player in Sri Lanka. I have contributed a lot for the emancipation of Tamilians - whether they are Sinhalese, tea estate workers or Eelam Tamils. I would like to point out that this statement is not intended to boast about my contributions." 

He further added, "I was concentrating to help Tamil children living in the affected areas controlled by the LTTE. I have also shown equal affinity for people whose lives were shattered by the Tsunami in 2004. Once the war had come to an end, I began providing more help through my 'FOUNDATION OF GOODNESS' organization to Eelam Tamils. People are coming to a wrong impression about me since I played for the Sri Lankan team. If I were born in India, I would have played for the Indian cricket team. Is it a crime which I have done? I feel a negative picture is being painted about me by those who are ignorant of all these factors and also due to political reasons. It causes a lot of unbearable pain. No matter how hard I try to explain my stance, I may not be able to convince them. I have presented before you my views only to alleviate negative opinions about me. I request all of you to go through my explanations and understand the reality."

Check out the statement in full below: