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800 Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Thursday, October 5, 2023 • Telugu ]
800 Review
Train Motion Picture, Vivek Rangachari
Madhur Mittal, Mahima Nambiar, Nassar
MS Sripathy
Vivek Rangachari
MS Sripathy

800  - Brilliantly encapsulates Murali's controversy ridden life on and off the cricket field

Making biopics on the silver screen is not easy especially when its about a cricketer as chances are high of it turning into a dull documentary.   Muttiah Muralitharan's biopic 800 faced as many challenges as him in reaching the movie screens.  Whether the film will succeed in getting across the true story to the spin wizard's detractors remains to be seen.

'800' opens in the British era when Muralidharan's grandfather's family migrate to Kandy, Sri Lanka as estate workers.  The young boy is fascinated by the game but his mother makes him realize its the game of the Britishers and the rich and he cannot play it.  Cut to decades later that boy's grandson Muttaiah Muralidharan is a five year old who cannot think of anything but cricket.  Just as he gets to hold a cricket ball and bowl his first ball a bomb blast occurs denying him that chance. His entire life after that is full of obstacles and challenges that he has to overcome to not only reach that magical 800 test wickets record that may never ever be surpassed but also to constantly prove himself to the world.

'Slumdog Millionaire' fame Madhur Mittal as Muralitharan has lived the role and turns out to be the best choice.  Right from that unique bowling action to the body language he has delivered an award worthy performance.   He has captured that uncanny trait of Muralitharan to always be in the background even though his performance was more often than not the most telling in the Sri Lankan team.  The final scene in which Mittal sheds tears after packing his cricket gear for one last time sums up the hero's long and challenging journey that continues to this day.  Harikrishnan and Nasser play the two Sri Lankan Tamils  with opposing views on whether Muralitharan deserves his glorification. Both of them are very effecting in giving the audience the arguments and letting them judge for themselves in the end.  Mahima Nambiar as Malar Muralitharan, Vela Ramamurthy and Janaki Suresh as his parents and Vadivukkarasi as his grandmother have all put in natural performances.  Rithvik as little Murali is endearing while Narain as Master based on the late LTTE leader Prabhakaran is effective.  The supporting cast are all good in representing the people of the various timelines.

What works best in '800' is that although its a cricketer's life story, it equally shows the plight of a refugee especially one who beats all odds to achieve greatness in his life. Though belonging to a comparatively well to do family his cricketing journey was never easy.    The film conveys the pain of being denied a chance because of his origin and later the infamous chucking row that dogged Murali's entire career.  And finally the lengths he goes to prove his honesty to the world earning the respect of even his rivals forms the crux of the screenplay.  Another positive is the well balanced depiction of the Sri Lanka - LTTE conflict without taking sides and letting arguments from both sides collide. The going is not all serious and there are several humorous moments like the one where Murali asks Ishant and Ojha to give up their wickets for him and they refuse.   For cricket lovers who especially lived in the Muralitharan era the film is a satisfying nostalgic journey of the highlights of his cricketing glory.

On the downside the slow pacing and the documentary feel might be a deterrent to the fast food generation.  The computer graphics is at times pretty obvious though not to the extent of affecting the flow.  

Ghibran's non intrusive background score, R.D. Rajasekhar's realistic visuals and Praveen KL's smooth cuts have worked in tandem much like Vaas, Murali and Sanga to give a memorable viewing experience.  Muralitharan and his producers deserve praise for maintaining his view and stand throughout the film without appeasing anyone.  M.S. Sripathy from the Venkat Prabhu school has done a brilliant job of encapsulating such a controversial life story and the  politics involved.  He sure may not have given us a T20 but much better than that, has crafted an enigmatic test match filled with joys, tears, arguments and upliftment in equal measure.

Verdict : Go for this well made brilliant underdog story of one of cricket's greatest heroes ever 

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0

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