The Mortality Narratives in Cultural Representations: Themes and Tropes in Malayalam Cinema




Mortality narratives, Malayam cinema, Deleuze and event, cultural practices, film studies


Malayalam cinema is a vibrant creative space that post 1990s, underwent a transformation, leading to a proliferation of films, uniquely experimental in nature. An interesting perspective explored in detail was that of mortality, analysis of death from a microcosmic perspective. Evaluating death as an event in Deleuzian framework enables us to gain interesting insights and the film used for study here is Ee. Ma. Yau. (2018) which has a funeral foregrounded in the narrative. The paper traces the encounter with death in popular films, over time, to comprehend social discourses built around mortality in India, specifically in the southern state of Kerala in India.  Death and the social interventions in this context emerge as aspects significant for this study.

Author Biography

Swapna Gopinath, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication

Associate Professor of Filma nd Cultural Studies


Alichniewicz, Anna. (2002) ‘Philosophical Thanatology as a foundation of contemporary medical ARS Moriendi’, In Tymieniecka AT. (ed.), Life Energies, Forces and the Shaping of Life: Vital, Existential. Analecta Husserliana (The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research), 74, Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 319-27, Accessed 15 Oct 2019.

Anthikad, Sathyan. (1986), Pappan Priyapetta Pappan (‘Pappan dear Pappan’), India: Harisree Productions.

Badiou, Alain. (2007), The event in Deleuze. Parrhesia, (trans. Jon Roffe), 3, pp. 37-44, Accessed 17 Oct 2019.

Badiou Alain. (2009), Logic of Worlds (trans. Alberto Toscano), London & New York: Continuum.

Bataille, Georges. (1991), The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, (trans. Robert Hurley), NY: Zone Books.

Beck, Christian and Francois-Xavier Gleyson. (2016). Deleuze and the Events. Journal for Cultural Research, 20: 4, 329-33, Accessed 20 Oct 2019.

Blanchot, Maurice. (1982), The Space of Literature, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Bose, Arun (2019), Luca, India: Stories and Thoughts Production.

Bowden, Sean. (2011), The Priority of Events: Deleuze’s Logic of Sense, Edinburgh, Edinburgh UP.

Columbat, Andre Pierre. (1996), ‘November 4, 1995: Deleuze’s Death as an Event’, Man and World, 29, 235-49, Accessed 23 Oct 2019.

C.,Sharika. (2018), ‘Chronicle of Death’, The Hindu, Accessed 15 Oct 2019.

Deleuze, Giles. (1990), The Logic of Sense, (trans. Mark Lester and Charles Stivale), London: Athlone Press.

Deleuze, Giles. (1992), The fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, Giles. (1995), Negotiations 1972-1990 (trans. M. Joughin), New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Gray, Glenn J. (1951),’The Idea of Death in Existentialism’, The Journal of Philosophy, 48:5, 113-27, Accessed 22 Oct 2019.

George, K G. (1982), Yavanika,(‘Screen’), India: Carolina Films.

Gopinath, Swapna and Sony Jalarajan Raj. (2015) ‘Gender Construct as a Narrative and Text: The Female Protagonist in New Generation Malayalam Cinema’, South Asian Popular Culture. doi=10.1080/14746689.2014.1000648. Accessed 05 March 2015.

Joseph, Jeethu. (2015), Drishyam, (The visual’), India: Aashirvad Cinemas.

Kuriakose, Anu. (2020) ‘Construction of Identity and Politics: Transgender People in Contemporary Malayalam Cinema’. South Asian Popular Culture. 18.3. doi.10.1080/14746689.2020.1815455. Accessed on 12 Dec 2020.

Krishnan, Murali. (1999), Chandamama, India: Suwarnarekha Creations.

Kuzma, Joseph. (n.d.), ‘Maurice Blanchot 1907-2003’, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Accessed 18 Oct 2019.

Lundborg, Tom. (2009), ‘The Becoming of the ‘Event’: A Deleuzian approach to understanding the production of social and political ‘Events’, Theory and Event, 12:1, Project Muse, doi:10.1353/tae0.0042.

Madhavan, Sethu. (1970), Ara Nazhika Neram (‘Half an hour only’), India: Manjilas.

Malayil, Sibi. (1991), Bharatham, India: Pranavam Arts.

Maruthur, Navaneetha Mokkil. (2020) ‘Sleepless Fathers in Malayalam Cinema: Unraveling the Dynamics of Caste and Masculinity’, South Asian Popular Culture. Pp. 1-18. doi: 10.1080/14746689.2020.1733807. Accessed on 15 June 2020.

Menon, Anjali. (2018), Koode, India: Rajaputra Visual Media.

Menon, Neelima. (2018), ‘Lijo Jose Pellisery on Ee.Ma. Yao, turning to films for self-expression, and moving on from failures’, Firstpost,

failures-5613281.html. Accessed 17 Oct 2019.

Mini, Darshana Sreedhar. (2019) ‘The Rise of Soft Porn in Malayalam Cinema and the Precarious Stardom of Shakeela’, Feminist Media Histories. 5.2. pp.49-82. doi: 10.1525/fmh.2019.52.49. Accessed on 02 Jan 2020.

Nair, Sreehari. (2018), ‘Ee. Ma. Yao: Four Deaths, two burials and a film for the ages’,, Accessed 02 Oct 2019.

Nathan, Archana. (2017), ‘In Malayalam Film Aedan, death and sin mingle with food, alcohol and games’,, Accessed 16 Oct 2019.

Padmakumar, M. (2018), Joseph, India: Showbiz Studios.

Padmarajan, P. (1988), Moonnam Pakkom (‘The third day’), India: Gandhimathi Films.

Patton, Paul. (1991), ‘The World Seen from within: Deleuze and the philosophy of events’, Theory and Event, 1:1. Project Muse, doi:10.1353/tae.1991.0006.

Peach, Filiz. (2000). ‘Death, faith and Existentialism’. Philosophy now, Accessed 25 Oct 2019.

Pellisery, Lijo Jose, (2018), Ee. Ma. Yau, India: OPM Cinemas.

Pillai, Meena T. (2017) ‘The Many Misogynies of Malayalam Cinema’, Economic and Political Weekly. 52.33. Pp. 52-58.

Pothan, Dileesh. (2016), Maheshinte Prathikaram (‘Mahesh’s revenge’), India: Rajaputra Visual Media.

Radhakrishnan, Ratheesh. (2017) ‘Guest Editor’s Introduction’, Positions. 25.1. doi: 10.1215/10679847-3710276. Accessed on 21 Dec 2019.

Raj, Sony Jalarajan, Swapna Gopinath and Rohini Sreekumar. (2016) ‘Dissent and Displacement of Subalternity in Malayalam Cinema: A

Cultural Analysis of Papilio Buddha by Jayan K Cheriyan’. Journal of Creative Communication. 11.2. doi=10.1080/14746689.2014.1000648.

Accessed on 25 Dec 2016.

Rajchman, John. (1990) ‘Introduction’, Pure Immanence: Essays on A Life. By Gilles Deleuze (trans. Mark Lester), Constantin V. Boundas (Ed.). New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 7-23.

Russell, Catherine. (1994), Narrative Mortality: Death, Closure and New Wave Cinemas, Minneapolis, U of Minnesota P.

Surendran, Sanju. (2018), Aedan, (‘Garden of desire’), India: Aaj Films Production.

Sudhish, Navamy. (2018), ‘Ee Ma Yao Review: Controlled splendor’, The Hindu, Accessed 13 Oct 2019.

Turner, Victor W. (1974), Dramas, Fields and Metaphors, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

Turner, Victor W. (1982), From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play, New York: PAJ Publications.

Van Gennep, Arnold. (1908), The Rites of Passage, (trans. M. B. Vizedom and G.L.Caffee), London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Varma, Sankeerthana. (2018), ‘Ee Ma Yao’, A CineBug’s Life. Accessed 03 Oct 2019.




How to Cite

Gopinath, S. (2022). The Mortality Narratives in Cultural Representations: Themes and Tropes in Malayalam Cinema. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 11(1), 89–114.