Tamil director R Seenu Ramasamy on Wednesday said that he feared for his life and sought protection. The director said that he began getting threat calls and messages after he urged actor Vijay Sethupathi to opt out of retired Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan’s biopic 800, NDTV reported.

“I feel my life is in danger. Chief minister sir should help. Urgent,” he said in a tweet. He later told reporters that someone was trying to drive a wedge between Sethupathi and him. “Just like many others, I too had recently appealed to actor Vijay Sethupathi to opt out of the film ‘800’. Just like his daughter, I too received threat messages. They abused me using unprintable words. I am unable to open my WhatsApp.”

Last week, the Chennai Police booked a Twitter user for issuing rape threat to Sethupathi’s daughter. The man identified as Rithik Raj, using the Twitter handle @itsrithikrajh, had issued the threat on October 19 with a picture of the actor and his daughter. Several online complaints were made to the cyber wing on the matter.

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

Ramasamy and Sethupathi have done films such as Thenmerku Paruvakatru and Dharmadurai together.

He said that he had earlier expressed his anguish to Sethupathi privately as well as in public, but “an image is created that I am against him”, according to PTI. “Vijay Sethupathi is loved by Tamils all over the world, including Elam Tamils [in Sri Lanka]. But [an impression is being created] as if I gave a statement [against the actor]. I am receiving Whatsapp calls in the night, besides SMSes.”

“They are intimidating me...I’m receiving threats,” he added.

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 the war.

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

Following the controversy, Sethupathi pulled out of the project on October 19 after Muralitharan asked him to step away so as not to encounter any problems in his future career.