SYNOPSIS Indian Panorama (Feature Film)


INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF INDIA 2003


Feature Film

NIZHALKKUTHU

Shadow Kill

Malayalam/90 minutes/35 mm Cinemascope/Colour

SYNOPSIS

The story is set in pre-Independence India of the 1940s. In the southern princely state of Travancore (a constituent of present-day Kerala), as elsewhere in the country, death by hanging was a prevalent penal practice. The State had its own professional executioner, traditionally the head of a designated family. Settled way out in a border village, he was not to have any direct links or dealings with the mainstream society.

In return for the practice of the dreaded profession, the Hangman used to enjoy a few privileges from the royalty – housing, agricultural lands, a yearly allowance and special monetary benefits and gifts for each job done.

With each hanging, the villagers believed the hangman came to possess divine powers derived from the Goddess Kali herself and the ash made from the hangman’s rope was a miracle healer. All the same, nothing could compensate for the guilt that keeps haunting him from the realization that the last man he hanged was innocent.

It is after a long interval – even as the hangman believed that he had put his ghastly vocation behind him – that a royal messenger arrives to order an execution afresh… A reluctant Kaliyappan prepares himself with prayers and penance. His sick and worn out physique finds the rigour of it all too difficult to endure.

Finally the appointed day closes in and he is taken to the capital town under police escort and high security. All the tests and trials are completed at the gallows and the jail administration is satisfied with the preparations. The actual execution will take place early next morning.

At the rest house, in a mute attempt to kill his sense of guilt and fear, the hangman starts drinking encouraged by the jail warders. The night is long and a tired and drunk Kaliyappan cannot help feeling sleepy. But then that is scandalous. The condemned prisoner awaiting execution in the morning cannot sleep, so the hangman shouldn’t sleep either: they are in a way alike being positioned at the ends of the rope, one of the warders reasons.

In order to keep the hangman awake, the jail warders start narrating stories. Bored with the righteous tone of it Kaliyappan longs for something that would fight his sleep. A second warder takes over and there develops before Kaliyappan a story that takes him in completely. He starts transposing people and places into the roles and locales in the story that the warder narrates.

The 13-year-old girl, whose brutal rape and murder is described in the jail warder’s story, becomes fused in Kaliyappan’s alcohol-hazed mind with his own young daughter. In a close examination, the jail warder’s story is a replay of the execution of the innocent boy the memory of which has been haunting Kaliyappan for life.

CREDITS

Producer: Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Director: Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Screenplay: Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Camera: Ravi Varma & Sunny Joseph

Editor: Ajithkumar B.

Art: Rateesh Babu

Music: Ilayaraja

Sound: Hari Kumar

 
 
Home
Press Releases

English Releases
Hindi Releases
Urdu Releases
Ministrywise Releases

Photogallery
  Today's Photogallery
Photo Archives
Features
English Features
Hindi Features
PIB
  Contact Information
About us
Subscribe PIB Releases
Accredited Journalists
Important Links
Pesident's Office
Prime Minister's Office
Indian Parliament
Media Units
DD News
AIR News
GOI Website Directory
   
Site Content Administered by :
A.K. Sen Gupta,
Senior Additional Principal Information Officer
Press Information Bureau
"A" - Wing, Shastri Bhawan,
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road,
New Delhi - 110 001