Richter Scale 7.6 movie review: Seismic shifts in a father-son equation in the face of displacement and isolation


As the opening credits roll in Richter Scale 7.6, folk artiste CJ Kuttappan’s voice reverberates across the screen. Kuttappan does not just sing, he immerses himself in each word and note emerging from his lips. 

 …Ineem ulla kaalam nammal paadaandirunnaa

Naadinde nattal potti nammal chaakum. 

Chaavaandirikkaan engilum paadedi, theiyye. 

Paadeettu chaavaan engilum paadedi, theiyye.

(Roughly: If in coming times we do not sing, the backbone of our homeland will be broken and we will die. If for no other reason than to ward off death, you must sing. If for no other reason than to die singing, you must sing.)

The song runs for about two minutes over a black screen with names in simple white lettering – two entire goosebump-inducing, poignant minutes that demand soul-searching from the viewer.

There is pain in this man’s every breath. He sings because if he and his people do not, their story will never be told. He is acutely aware that in keeping with the practice of colonisers, conquerors and dominant social groups down the ages who have written history from their point of view while erasing or distorting the truth about the vanquished and the downtrodden, those who are destroying his community too will not reveal the havoc wreaked by the “karutha deivathe kollunna thambraande deivam” (literally: the god of the master who kills the black god). 


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