Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan on Friday said the proposed biopic 800 on him was only about his sports accomplishments despite the challenge of decades long conflict in his country and his humble beginnings.
He expressed anguish over him being accused as against the Tamils and asserted that it was for "political reasons" and out of "ignorance." As opposition to Tamil actor Vijay Sethupathi reprising his career in the biopic grew in Tamil Nadu and among the Tamil diaspora, the cricketer broke his silence.
Seeking to counter the allegation that he was a betrayer of the Tamils and stood by the Lankan establishment during the 2009 civil war, he said he never supported killings of innocent people.
The hill country Tamils in the island nation including him were the first victims of violence, serial bomb blasts and war that stretched for over 30 years in Sri Lanka, he said.
Known as ''Malayaga Tamizhargal'' among Tamil people, hill country Tamils are of Indian origin in Lanka and they are plantation labourers as distinguished from indigenous Tamils of other regions.
In a statement, the legendary spinner said he understood the pains of war and his family began its journey in Sri Lanka as "coolies" in tea estates.
"We have been severely affected," he said referring to the waves of conflict.
His father sustained a sickle attack when he was a seven-year old child and many of his relatives were killed, reducing his family to impoverishment several times.
"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.
A remark made by him last year was "twisted" to portray as if he had referred to the day of killings of the Tamil people in 2009 as his happiest day, he asserted. Lanka faced war like situation for 30 plus years, and people including him lived amid such a challenge, he said.
"The film 800 is about how I managed to find a place in the cricket team against such a background." On the accusation that he does not even know or spoke Tamil and used only Sinhalese and English he said it was wrong, adding he was educated in Tamil medium.
On him saying that Tamil students had 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 on their skills."
Although he "viewed" the hill country Tamils, the Eelam Tamils and Sinhalese on the same footing, he had helped the Eelam Tamils more, he said.
Also, he listed his welfare initiatives for Eelam people in fields of education, women empowerment, healthcare and nurturing harmony.
Still, "some people out of ignorance and some for political reasons are portraying me as against the Tamil race and it is anguishing."
Eelam means homeland and refers to Tamils living in north-eastern Lanka.
MDMK general secretary Vaiko had alleged Muralitharan has been "identified as a betrayer of the Tamil race" by Tamils around the world, for supporting the then Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa during the 2009 civil war.
Naam Tamizhar Katchi leader Seeman and PMK founder leader S Ramadoss were among those who condemned the Kandy born star cricketer as a "betrayer" and "stooge" of the Sinhalese and against theTamils.
They wanted Vijay Sethupathi not to be a part of the movie 800.
Dar Motion Pictures, the producers of the film, had said the movie was only a sports biography and it shall not make any political statement.