Enough! Let’s not waste time making or watching biopics on gangsters and criminals. Writer-director M.S Sripathy’s 800 tells us why. A biopic burnished in unassuming emotions, it is the story of Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan who took an unprecedented number of wickets, thereby creating history.
This commendable film on Muttiah Muralitharan’s life and game, doesn’t quite create history. But it, well, bowls you over with its unflinching determination to tell the truth about what it means to be a Tamilian Sri Lankan cricketer (that’s three levels of hurdle already huddled in a corner for our hero to overcome).
800 is a work of uninterrupted sincerity. The actors, their accents and the locations where Muralitharan’s journey unfolds are so artless, it would be heartless to utter a word against the charming endeavour.Thankfully, the Caucasian actors playing Australian members of the cricket board are not tourists picked up from India Gate.
There is no denying every actors and technician’s commitment to nailing Muralitharan’s inspiring journey from ethnic violence to resounding victory, none more so than Madhur Mittal for whom this film is game-changer. Mittal not only owns Muralitharan’s character, he gets the body language of the protagonist so accurately, it seems the real and reel characters can comfortably be part of an exchange programme.
My favourite sequence has Mittal’s Muralitharan being disallowed from entering a night club without shoes. A hostile player comes forward to play Cinderella. It is a touching moment of camaraderie that tells us how and why cricket binds the world together even as it tears the players apart on the field.
I am sure Muralitharan faced a lot more obstacles than a pair of shoes.The film confronts all his awkwardness . But still seems sanitized for mass consumption. And that’s not a bad thing when dealing with a controversial but motivating subject.