Former Sri Lankan bowling ace Muthiah Muralidaran has disclosed that the unit of 800, his biopic directed by director Sripathy, braved riots to shoot in Sri Lanka for the film.
Talking to the media recently, Muralidaran spoke at length about the movie which features Madhur Mittal and Mahima Nambiar in the lead.
“In 2018, directors Venkat Prabhu and Sripathy and actor Subbu came down to Sri Lanka to visit a charitable organisation that I have been running since 1998. They came to visit one of our centres in Galle. I started this organisation because I wanted to give back something to the people who stood by me during the chucking controversy that erupted in 1995,” Muralitharan recalled.
“Through this organisation, we have built over 1,000 houses and allotted them to those who lost their homes to the tsunami. We have offered education to over 10,000 people,” the cricketer explained.
Venkat Prabhu and Sripathy, on visiting the centre in Galle, learnt that Muthiah Muralidaran is associated with the charity organisation. Further, Venkat Prabhu is a childhood friend of the cricketer’s wife.
“So, we invited them home for lunch in Colombo. It was then that Venkat Prabhu came up with the idea of doing a biopic. Initially, I wasn’t too keen. But my manager felt that we could donate the proceeds from the film to the charity organisation we are running. So, I agreed,” he added.
Sripathy’s efforts to make 800 a reality
Venkat Prabhu roped in Sripathy to write the story for 800. Sripathy visited Sri Lanka and penned the script in about two years.
“I told Sripathy only one thing: ‘There are people who I like and who I don’t like. You will have to speak to them all. Don’t come up with a story that has only the opinions of those who I like.’ He did exactly that,” Muralidaran smiled.
About the hiccups in the process, the Sri Lankan cricketer noted, “Venkat Prabhu was to direct the biopic. Since he had some disagreements with the producers, he chose to opt out of the film. Then I asked Sripathy to helm the project and he brought in a new producer.”
Thereafter, the team wanted to bring Vijay Sethupathi on board. “This move, as you all know, was again hampered. Then came the Covid-19 pandemic and two more years were gone. But Sripathy did not give up on the project. It is only because of his dogged determination that 800 is coming out,” he added.
Murali endured the trials of life, withstood the test of time, and rose to become the G.O. A. T! 📷📷
Don’t miss his inspiring story.
— Movie Train Motion Pictures (@MovieTrainMP) September 10, 2023
‘Life is a struggle for me’
Muthiah Muralidaran says he faced many obstacles at every turn of life. “Just like how we struggled for almost five years to bring this film to you, I have struggled for everything all my life. However, I overcame them all.”
He recollected a childhood incident in this regard. “When I was six years old, I was sent to a hostel where I stayed till I turned 18 and completed my schooling. I had to live there despite many problems and challenges. The hostel life helped me overcome the problems I have been facing in life.”
Everything was going smoothly when suddenly Sri Lanka faced a financial crisis. Riots happened right in front of the hotel where the unit of 800 was staying.
“I told the unit not to get scared but to finish the shooting, and they obliged. The Sri Lankan police offered us protection because they realised that this would be a significant film,” the cricketer recalled.
He further added, “I thank the entire crew for boldly choosing to stay back. We shot for almost 80 days under those trying circumstances. There were times when they wouldn’t have access to something as basic as diesel but finished the film. It is their hard work that has now translated into 800.”
What 800 is about?
Muthiah Muralidaran said he told Sripathy that 800 should only depict the truth and nothing else. He read the script but hasn’t watched the film yet.
“A lot of incidents happened in my life — some of them behind my back. At that time, Arjuna Ranatunga looked after me like a dad and I’m really grateful to him,” the cricketer became emotional.
“800 is not about cricket but is an inside story. The records can be accessed from the Internet, but the movie showcases the other side of achieving 800. Cricket scenes will appear only for about 20 minutes in this two-hour forty-five-minute film. The rest of the story is about my ancestry and how I played cricket despite the challenges,” he added.