indian cinema heritage foundation

In Custody (1993)

  • Release Date1993
  • GenreDrama, Comedy
  • FormatColor
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time126 min
  • Censor RatingU

Deven, a teacher at a provincial Indian college, is commissioned to interview a famous Urdu poet, Nur, living in Bhopal. But when he seeks out his great hero, Deven finds him old and broken, surrounded by hangers-on who lead him into drunken excesses, and harassed by his two wives, a homely elder one and a beautiful younger woman, who claims to be poetess herself. Borrowing money from his college, Deven buys a tape-recorder, but the interview is a fiasco: the place he has hired out be a brothel, the poet is more interested in consuming quantities of food and drink than reciting poetry, and finally the tape-recorder breaks down. When Deven tries to edit the tape, all he gets are some drunken, rambling cries and mutters. He returns to Bhopal for another interview, but is intercepted by the younger wife, who wants him to record her poetry instead.

Beset by debts for the money he has spent on the tape-recorder, on intermediaries, and on his journeys to and from Bhopal, Deven is despair.

Unexpectedly, he receives a package from the poet, who feels himself to be near death and realises all his work into Deven's custody. The film ends on the poet's funeral, which is not a mournful occasion but one of joyful fulfilment. 

[From the official press booklet]