800 is about my early life and struggles
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Anupama Subramanian
Muttiah Muralitharan, celebrated as one of the greatest bowlers in the annals of cricket, was in Chennai for the trailer launch of his biopic, 800. Directed by Sripathy and featuring Madhur Mittal as Muralitharan and Mahima Nambiar as his wife Mathi, the film aims to provide an intimate look into the cricketer’s life. A palpably excited Muralitharan settled down for a brief conversation with DC.
How 800 happened
In 1995, I grappled with numerous challenges. The people of Sri Lanka stood behind me, enabling me to rise from an ordinary cricketer to what I’ve become today. Amidst a backdrop of religious, communal and political strife, I set up an NGO, the Foundation of Goodness, in 1998. The organisation focuses on education, sports and youth welfare.
Filmmaker Venkat Prabhu and my wife Mathi are neighbours in Chennai’s RA Puram area and childhood friends. I also know him through his films like Chennai-28. He and Sripathy visited the Foundation in Galle in 2018, and subsequently proposed the idea of a biopic. I was hesitant at first, but they convinced me to give the go-ahead, saying the film’s proceeds could benefit the Foundation.
On Sripathy directing 800
After the original producer and Venkat Prabhu exited the project, I specifically wanted Sripathy to direct it. He had done extensive research in Sri Lanka for two years. My only stipulation was that the film should portray the truth of my life, without any exaggeration.
The essence of 800
800 isn’t a propaganda film. While I haven’t seen the movie yet, I trust that Sripathy has faithfully followed the script, which I’ve reviewed multiple times. The film will focus more on my early life and struggles, dedicating only 20 minutes to my cricketing milestones. Cricket has already given me a name and fame. This movie aims to inspire those who watch it.
The controversy surrounding Vijay Sethupathi’s involvement
I never foresaw the backlash caused by Vijay Sethupathi (VJS) joining the project. It seemed like a staged drama instigated by people with ulterior motives. I don’t want to dwell on it. Vijay had to step away, considering the risks to his career, but his participation would have been a great honour for us.
Comparing Vijay Sethupathi and Madhur Mittal
Both actors have unique styles. While VJS is an extraordinarily talented actor, Madhur has had experience with sports films like Million Dollar Arm. I’m confident he’s done an excellent job.
Sripathy’s inputs on VJS
Vijay Sir was committed. He wanted to undergo extensive training to do justice to the role. He took bowling lessons when Covid restrictions were lifted. Later, despite other film commitments, he managed to find time for classes to refine his body language and vocal skills."