Muthiah Muralidaran is an inspiration to youngsters and a role model: VVS Laxman at ‘800’ pre-release event

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Muthiah Muralidaran, the legendary off-spinner, is the only bowler in the history of International Test cricket to take 800 wickets. Movie Train Motion Pictures has made an authentic, grand sports-based film titled ‘800’ as his biopic. Madhur Mittal of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fame is essaying the role of Muralidaran in the film. Mahima Nambiar plays Madhimalar Ramamurthy, the former cricketer’s wife, in it. Directed by MS Sripathy, the film is co-written by the Booker Prize (2022) laureate Shehan Karunatilaka.

Vivek Rangachari and Movie Train Motion Pictures have produced the movie. Sivalenka Krishna Prasad, the famous Tollywood producer and the head of Sridevi Movies, has acquired its All-India theatrical rights. The movie will be released in theatres on October 6th.

Its pre-release event was held today in Hyderabad. Former cricketer VVS Laxman graced the occasion as the chief guest. The big ticket was unveiled by the chief guest on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, VVS Laxman said that Muthiah’s entire life is an inspiration, not just his on-field exploits. “From childhood to retirement, he soared high. Muralidaran is also the mentor to Sunrisers Hyderabad, the IPL team. I played cricket with him. Although I played on the rival side, I have always been personally acquainted with him. Everyone knows that Muralidaran is a great cricketer and a human being with a great heart. He is not proudish. He is such a role model to everyone. He is like a brother to me. I am lucky to have had a friend in him. For him, cricket is life,” Laxman said.

Muthiah Muralidaran said that it was in the year 1998 that he first met Laxman. “We played the first match together in Cuttack, Orissa. Laxman is younger than me. He was a teen when he shocked everyone with his cricketing skills. At that time, Laxman was yet to find a place in Team India. He used to play knocks against spin bowling so well. Whenever he played in Sri Lanka, I couldn’t take his wicket. Laxman is a great cricketer and a close friend of mine. We have worked together on Sunrisers Hyderabad. Even though we played for different countries on the field, Sachin, Anil Kumble, Ganguly, Laxman and I have been friends off the field. Cricket is not about records. It is about making friends! Hyderabad is special to me. After I retired from IPL, I was asked to work for Sunrisers Hyderabad team,” Muralidaran said, recalling an anecdote from the past. “Once, we were traveling from Hyderabad to another city. I asked for biryani and Laxman ensured there was enough biryani in the flight for us to consume,” Muralidaran said. He chose actor Venkatesh as the aptest one to lead a celebrity league. The Sri Lankan cricketer also said that Natural Star Nani, Jr NTR and Prabhas would ideally be in the team.

Sivalenka Krishna Prasad said, “I have known the director Sripathy since 2004. I joined hands with SPB Charan on the Tamil remake of ‘Varsham’. In that film, Sripathy worked in the direction department and later under Venkat Prabhu. We thought we would make a film together. I wanted to introduce him as a director. That’s when he got the opportunity to do Muralidaran’s biopic. It is good to be introduced as a director through a biopic. They wanted to make ‘800’ with Vijay Sethupathi in the lead. That didn’t happen. The pandemic further delayed the materialization of the project with another lead actor. Sripathy used to give me updates since the script work was begun. I often wonder if a man’s journey can be rich in heavy emotions. ‘800’ gives the answer. Two months ago, I showed interest in being part of ‘800’. The success of ‘Yashoda’ changed it for me. I got to be aware of the national market. I came to know some nice individuals. That’s what made me present ‘800’. I will do good films in the future too. However, ‘800’, with its many teary scenes, will always be special to me.” Krishna Prasad thanked Laxman for being there.

Actor Madhur Mittal said that he practiced bowling for two to three hours every day before the shoot of ‘800’ was begun. “Muralidaran’s style is a bit hard to catch. I had a car accident seven or eight years ago. Incidentally, Muralidaran once injured his elbow. Hence, his bowling action is close to mine. We worked harder to get the look of Muralidaran than getting the bowling action right. Credit should be given to the makeup team and the direction team in this regard. We worked for two and a half hours every day to get the perfect look. From the age of 17 to retirement, I had to don multiple looks. This movie is more than about cricket. Muralidaran’s life is unknown to the world. I hope you will see this movie in theaters on October 6 and make it a success,” the actor added.

Cast:

Madhur Mittal, Mahima Nambiar, Naren, Nassar, Vela Ramamoorthy, Riythvika, Vadivukkarasi, Arul Das, Hari Krishnan, Sarath Lohithaswa and others.

Crew:

Editor: Praveen KL; Cinematographer: R.D. Rajasekhar; Music Director: Ghibran; Writer-Director: MS Sripathy.