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Shadow Kill (2002) More at IMDbPro »Nizhalkkuthu (original title)


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Release Date:
5 November 2003 (France) See more »
7 wins & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Counterflows to Modernity See more (3 total) »


  (in credits order)
Oduvil Unnikrishnan ... Kaliyappan the executioner
Sukumari ... Marakatam, his wife
Reeja ... Mallika, the younger daughter
Thara Kalyan ... Madhavy, the older daughter
Murali ... Vasu, Madhavy's Husband
Sivakumar ... Mallika's Lover
Narein ... Muthu, Kaliyappan's son (as Sunil)
Nedumudi Venu ... Jailer
Vijayaraghavan ... Jailer
Jagathi Sreekumar ... Maharajah's Officer
Indrans ... Barber
Kukku Parameshwaram ... Woman seeking treatment in Kaliyappan
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Directed by
Adoor Gopalakrishnan 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Adoor Gopalakrishnan 

Produced by
Joël Farges .... co-producer
Adoor Gopalakrishnan .... producer
Elise Jalladeau .... producer
Original Music by
Cinematography by
Sunny Joseph 
S. Ravi Varman  (as Ravi Varma)
Film Editing by
Production Design by
Ratheesh Babu 
Adoor Gopalakrishnan 
Costume Design by
Satheesh S.B. 
Makeup Department
P.N. Mani .... makeup artist
Sound Department
Jonathan Liebling .... foley artist
Fabrice Naud .... sound editor
Dominique Vieillard .... sound editor
Dominique Vieillard .... sound re-recording mixer
Dominique Vieillard .... sound

Production CompaniesDistributors
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Nizhalkkuthu" - India (original title)
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90 min
Switzerland:12 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:12 (canton of Vaud)


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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful.
Counterflows to Modernity, 21 August 2007
Author: (Niv_Savariego) from Tel Aviv

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Nizhalkkuthu seems to be a story about a hangman and his dilemmas, but in actuality it offers an alternative to a modern understanding of the Indian state. As it is, this movie caters for local, south Indian tastes and political sensitivities, and has little to say for others. Gopalakrishnan offers an alternative reading of the Indian freedom struggle, as part of an endless 'Leela' (mythical play), in which some innocent person has to die in order to enable others to live. This victim is a victim of the Goddess, a necessary sacrifice.

When it comes to it, the hangman's son, a Gandhian, doesn't refuse to take over the hanging. This I feel, is the strongest statement made by this film: That India's freedom is not a break with the past, but the past renewing itself in a new cycle. The society depicted is 'purely Dravidian'; There are no obvious castes or pollution principles, and everyone are devoted only to Devi (although allusions to Krishna and Jesus are abundant, but probably, mostly unintended).

It is interesting to see a movie whose narrative isn't modern or post-modern, but, in a way, counter-modern, offering us Leela in place of Modernity (structure in place of teleology) as the anchor of the narrative.

There are some beautiful shots throughout the film showing Kerala's lush landscape, but they seem to have bored the audience around me. All in all, surprisingly political in its statement, an essential movie for Indiaphiles or post colonial academics, but perhaps not for the wide public.

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