Watch In Custody
- 2 hr 6 min
In Custody is a 1994 Indian movie directed by Ismail Merchant based on the novel of the same name by Anita Desai. The movie stars Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Om Puri in lead roles. It is a story about the pursuit of a dying art form and how the protagonist artfully navigates the social, cultural and personal challenges to finally achieve it. The movie revolves around Deven (Shashi Kapoor), a professor of Hindi at a college, who is passionate about Urdu poetry. He decides to undertake the task of conducting an interview with India's greatest living Urdu poet, Nur Shahjahanabadi (Om Puri), who has been living in seclusion for years. Deven also wants to translate and publish Shahjahanabadi's poetry. He dreams of establishing himself as a literary figure and of regenerating interest in Urdu poetry. However, the task of the interview proves to be a daunting one, as Shahjahanabadi is a reclusive and temperamental figure who is not easily accessible. His temperament is further exacerbated by the presence of his new-age wife, Imtiaz (played by Shabana Azmi). Imtiaz is a modern woman who is at odds with the values and traditions of the past, which are upheld by her husband. She is, in fact, instrumental in leading Shahjahanabadi away from his beloved art and towards a life of glitz and glamor. Deven tries his best to gain Shahjahanabadi's trust, but the poet is skeptical of him and believes that he is only interested in exploiting him for his own gain. Deven's perseverance, however, pays off, and he manages to gain access to the poet on several occasions. The interactions between the two men forms the core of the movie, as they delve into various aspects of art, language, culture, and life. As the movie progresses, we see Deven getting increasingly disillusioned and disappointed with the world around him, as he realizes that he is fighting a losing battle. He sees the world around him becoming more and more materialistic and dismissive of art and culture. His own family members, who hold respectable jobs in the government, see his pursuit of Urdu poetry as a waste of time, even as they indulge in their own pursuits of material well-being. Amidst all this, Deven also deals with his own personal demons. He has a strained relationship with his wife, who is a working woman, and feels a sense of isolation and loneliness in his life. His interactions with Shahjahanabadi provide him with a window into a world he had longed for but never experienced. In Custody is a poignant portrayal of a man's quest for an elusive dream, and how it makes him confront his own values and beliefs, and question the world he occupies. The movie highlights the importance of art and literature in the contemporary world, where the world is more driven by utilitarian values than by aesthetic ones. It is also a brilliant exposÃ© of the cultural and linguistic chauvinism that is rampant in India and how it marginalizes those who do not conform to its norms. The performances in In Custody are top-notch, with Shashi Kapoor giving a career-defining performance as Deven, the flawed protagonist. Om Puri is brilliant as the irascible and enigmatic Shahjahanabadi, while Shabana Azmi shines as the disenchanted wife who is caught between tradition and modernity. The cinematography by Larry Pizer is stunning, with the film beautifully capturing the essence of small-town India and the life of the Urdu poet. The music by Zakir Hussain is hauntingly evocative, adding an emotional depth to the movie. In Custody is a masterclass in filmmaking, and a must-watch for all lovers of literature, art, and culture. It is a movie that will stay with you long after you have watched it, as you ponder over the larger questions it raises about life and the world we live in.