Movie to be made about Singapore match-fixer Wilson Raj: TNP suggests casting choices
Singapore match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal is about to be immortalised in a Hollywood film.
According to industry publication Variety, the soccer match-fixing thriller will follow Wilson Raj, a convicted match-fixer, who was arrested in Finland in 2011.
The film, to be produced by 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment, will be based on an ESPN Magazine article All the World is Staged, which was published in 2012.
The movie will also follow two other characters: Chris Eaton, the former security chief at world football body Fifa, and a player whose family is threatened.
When Wilson Raj, 50, was arrested in Rovaniemi, Finland in 2011 for having a false passport, it was Chris Eaton who travelled to Rovainiemi and told authorities that they had just caught a notorious match-fixer.
Wilson Raj's syndicate attempted to fix the 2010 World Cup warm-up matches.
He also tried to fix the 2013 South-east Asian Games in Myanmar.
Wilson Raj is now a free man in Hungary, where he is said to have helped authorities uncover a worldwide web of corruption.
The New Paper correspondent Zaihan Mohamed Yusof extensively reported on Singapore being a "hub of match-fixing" over the years.
Wilson Raj even wrote letters to Mr Zaihan from Finland (see below).
At one point, he wrote about his Finland arrest: "My associate decided to get rid of me so that he would have total control of officials and players under my payroll. My fugitive status was to his advantage, that's when he engaged an informant to nail me in Rovaniemi."
Mr Zaihan has since written about the scandal in his book Foul! The Inside Story of Singapore Match Fixers.
With so many twists and turns, it looks like the film will live up to its "thriller" genre.
But, who will play Singaporean Wilson Raj?
Hollywood is currently protesting the lack of proper representation and diversity in its movies as well as recognition of acting talents.
So we thought we might give casting directors a helping hand.
Hopefully, they take our suggestions seriously.
We wouldn't want a Caucasian male to be cast as Wilson Raj. Oh yes, it's possible. After all, Joseph Fiennes was just cast as Michael Jackson in the 30-minute TV programme Elizabeth, Michael, and Marlon. It is said to be about a supposed road trip taken by Jackson, Marlon Brandon and Elizabeth Taylor after the 9/11 attacks.
Here are some of our suggestions:
We hope that Hollywood would look to Singapore for talent - especially in its casting of Wilson Raj. After all, and I'm saying this seriously, we are not void of talent in the acting arena - especially on Vasantham Central.
Mathialagan, an actor for more than 10 years, is one of the better ones around.
He is currently starring in long-running Channel 5 drama Tanglin as a doctor known to be a family man.
Mathialagan has previous won Best Drama Performance By An Actor at the 11th Asian Television Awards in 2006 for his role in telemovie Accidental Accident.
He beat fellow Singaporean Adrian Pang as well as three other actors from Hong Kong and Indonesia.
It's been 10 years since that victory. Maybe he's due for another one, Hollywood?
2) Ajith Kumar
Arguably one of the best and more popular actors in Tamil Nadu, Indian actor Ajith Kumar could very well take on playing the notorious match-fixer.
Ajith, 44, has played both villains, heroes and anti-heroes and has excelled in all of them.
His most recent flick Vedalam, was released in October last year. It received positive reviews from critics and was declared a blockbuster.
He certainly possesses the charm necessary to be one of the world's most notorious match-fixers.
3) Aasif Mandvi
Maybe Aasif, 49, will not be the most conventional choice given his background as a comedian, but I believe he has the capabilities to impress in a serious role.
After all, he has already played another real-life Indian, Ash Vasudevan, in Million Dollar Arm — which is also a sports movie. In that film, Vasudevan forms a sports agency and then a reality show — Million Dollar Arm— with J.B. Bernstein (plyed by Jon Hamm) who helped discover the first Indian Major League Baseball players.
Maybe this time Aasif won't play second fiddle to the main, Caucasian lead.
4) Anil Kapoor
Anil, 56, is one of those actors who has enjoyed fame in both Bollywood and Hollywood. So, casting directors may as well look to him to play Wilson Raj.
He is perhaps best known internationally for his role in Slumdog Millionaire. That and a ridiculous playboy opposite Tom Cruise and Paula Patton in the fouth Mission Impossible.
5) Irrfan Khan
Along with Anil, Irrfan Khan, 49, is also one of the few go-to Indian guys in big budget Hollywood movies.
He was in this year's mega blockbuster Jurassic World, and was also on The Amazing Spiderman - both morally ambiguous roles.
So Wilson Raj will fit right in there on his CV.
Irrfan will next star alongside Tom Hanks in Inferno, the third adaptation of the Dan Brown novels. (They're still making those movies?).
6) Denzel Washington
I honestly will not be surprised if they cast a non-Indian actor as Wilson Raj. After all, they did just that in The Martian when an Indian man was played by black actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.
But if they had to, I hope they cast Denzel Washington.
Washington has proven time and time again that he can play just about anyone - so why not a Singaporean Indian match-fixer?
But would that make Wilson too attractive?
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now