The film is a commentary on the social and the gender injustice. As in his other movies, filmmaker Prakash Jha has focussed on the social problems that plague his native state of Bihar, India, and like his other movies this one straddles the boundary between art film and commercial film. The film also boasted of some semi-classical music, tuned by Anand-Milind and Raghunath Seth and worded by Javed Akhtar.
It is set in the village of Bilaspur, Bihar in 1996. The movie starts with the grisly portrayal of a mob killing of two defenceless women, orchestrated by vested interests, and how village power players later evade administrative inquiries into this atrocity. This incident sets the tone for much of the rest of the movie.
The central characters are a young couple, Vinay (Ayub Khan) and Ketki (Madhuri Dixit). They are quickly plunged into the midst of machinations by several powerful and unscrupulous villagers. Foremost among them is contractor Tirpat Singh (Mohan Joshi), a powerful, corrupt and ruthless man who oppresses poor people and especially women with impunity. Vinay too becomes influenced by Tirpat, and under this influence spirals down a dark road of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and selfishness that alienates his loving wife and tears apart the whole family, despite her best efforts to fight this.
The rest of the movie deals with their efforts to break out of this morass, both within their relationship as well as outside of it, and Vinay's and especially Ketki's long, hard, and bloody struggle to confront and defeat the forces of oppression and male domination in the village.
Madhuri Dixit as Ketki
Shabana Azmi as Chandravati
Ayub Khan as Vinay Singh
Om Puri as Rambaran Mahto
Shilpa Shirodkar as Kanti
Mohan Joshi as Tirpat Singh
Mohan Agashe as Abhay Singh
Harish Patel as MLA Durga Pandey
Achyut Potdar as Ketki's father (Special Appearance)
Mona Ambegaonkar in a Special Appearance
"Keh Do Ek Bar Sajana Itna Kyu Pyar Sajna" - Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik
"Raat Maheke To Yun Bhi Hota Hai Chand" - Sadhana Sargam, Hariharan
"Itani Hai Mori Kahani Ke Raja Mai To Ho Gayi Tori Diwani" - Sadhana Sargam
"Kab Se Main Hun Khadi Beech Dhare, Dur Nadiya Ke" - Sadhana Sargam
"Tum Bin Man Ki Bat Adhuri, Din Hai Adhure" - Kumar Sanu, Sadhana Sargam
Special Jury Award, Best Feature Film, Cinéma Tout Ecran, Geneva (1998)
Audience Award, Best Feature Film, Bangkok Film Festival (1998)
Best Actress, Madhuri Dixit, Screen Awards (1998)
Best Supporting Actress, Shabana Azmi, Screen Awards (1998)
Best Actor In A Negative Role, Mohan Joshi, Screen Awards (1998)
Best Director, Prakash Jha, Zee Cine Awards (1998)
Best Dialogue Writer, Prakash Jha, Zee Cine Awards (1998)
Best Sound (Re-recording), Zee Cine Awards (1998)
Best Feature Film (Critics’ Choice), Prakash Jha, Sansui Awards (1998)
Best Actress, Madhuri Dixit, Sansui Awards (1998)
Mrityudand was invited for the gala premiere at BFI London Film Festival in 1997.