Actor Vijay Sethupathi on Monday opted out of retired Sri Lankan cricketer Muthiah Muralitharan’s biopic 800 on the latter’s request, The News Minute reported. Sethupathi’s publicist Yuvaraj confirmed the news.

Muralitharan asked Sethupathi to step away from the project so as not to encounter any problems in his future career, according to The Hindu. Sethupathi shared Muralitharan’s statement on Twitter with a cryptic message “nandri, vanakkam” (thank you and goodbye).

The title of the biopic refers to Muralitharan’s legendary 800 Test wickets, the most for any bowler ever.

In a statement issued from the United Arab Emirates, where he is the bowling coach for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, Muralidaran said of Sethupathy: “He should not suffer any unnecessary obstacles in his career as an artist in future. Therefore, I request him to move away.”

Political leaders as well as personalities from the Tamil film industry had said on October 13, when the first look for the biopic was released, that Sethupathi should not act in the biopic of a person who had earlier made comments perceived to be in support of the war waged by the Sri Lankan Army against the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam. Thousands of Tamil civilians were killed in war. On social media, the hashtag #ShameonVijaySethupathi was trending.

In a statement, Muralitharan said his comments, which were made many years ago, had been taken out of context and that he did not support the killing of innocents.

“I consented for my biopic to be made because it would provide inspiration and confidence to future generations and young cricketers. But there have been many obstacles. I hope that this film would be made despite these obstacles. I have been given assurances by the production house that they would make an announcement soon and I will stand by them for all their efforts.”

— Muthiah Muralitharan

The cricketing icon added that he has never felt “fatigued because of setbacks” and has always won against all odds.

The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and veteran Tamil filmmaker Bharathiraja were among those who had urged Sethupathi to opt out from the biopic. Dar Motion Pictures, the producers of the biopic, had said it is “purely a sports biography”. The production house maintained that the film did not make any political statement favouring any community.

Also read: Why a biopic on cricketer Muralitharan has become controversial in Tamil Nadu