Ajit JohnMuttiah Murlidharan the world's highest wicket taker was at IFFI 54 yesterday to promote his biopic 800 along with the Director MS Sripathy and the actor Madhur Mittal who essayed his role in the movie.
Speaking to the Herald he said he was happy with the way the movie had turned out. He said at the start he was a bit hesitant because there was the Dhoni biopic, Sachin biopic, Pele’s and then his manager convinced him. He said it took them five years with a lot of obstacles. He said it was a true story, it is a biopic and while watching it, he said old memories came rushing back from his childhood. 70 per cent of the movie he said was shot in live occasions and the memories would keep coming back to him. When asked if he gave any advice to Madhur Mittal before the movie he said he ought to be himself instead of trying to copy the cricketer. He said Madhur got it very well meaning the bowling action, he did not know how he managed it but it seems he had some coach who helped him.
When asked who would be the next Muttiah Murlidharan, he said someone new would come with his own style and break his record.
Later in the day, he was part of the In –Conversation session moderated by Komal Nahta. Murali said, “ Cricket was my solace during those tumultuous times," reminiscing about his childhood dreams that never included playing for his school, let alone representing his country.
Discussing the biopic, Murali emphasized the importance of authenticity. "It's not about glorification; it's about the truth," he affirmed, having meticulously scrutinized the script multiple times to ensure the narrative stayed faithful to his struggles and triumphs.
Speaking about the ‘chucking controversy’ over his bowling action in Australia in 1995, Murali claimed that it was done purposefully to put him down. He said, “It was a heartbreak but I didn't give up and continued with active support from my fellow teammates and the cricket board.”
Talking about his struggles and topsy-turvy incidents in cricketing life, Murali said that the worst incident in his cricketing history was the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan.
For philanthropic work, Murali has been running a charitable organization Foundation of Goodness. The organization is committed to the well-being of the Seenigama region and supports local communities through a range of projects across areas including children's needs, education and training, health care and psycho-social support, housing, livelihood, sport and the environment.
The director of the film Sripathy M revealed that the film is not merely portraying a celebrity cricketer but encapsulating the seismic events and struggles that shaped Muralitharan's extraordinary life. “The film aims to capture the essence of a legend whose journey was as dramatic off the field, as it was on”, he articulated.
For making a biopic, Sripathy revealed, “There is no template or screenplay format. We wanted to make a truthful story of a legend, whose personal and professional life is too dramatic to handle.”
Madhurr Mittal, portraying Murali in the film said, “This is more than a sports film. It is a human drama and the resilience of a great sportsperson, stronger than fiction.” Reflecting on his acting journey from Kahin Pyar Na Ho Jaye at the age of seven, to playing Murali, Madhurr said it was very exciting and an honour to play the cricketing legend in the biopic. Madhurr said, “To emulate the bowling action of the spin wizard, I practised with a bowling coach for two months to honour Murali's legacy.”