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Custody Review: Content Fails - Narrative Falls

Custody Review: Content Fails - Narrative Falls

Movie: Custody
Rating: 2.25/5
Srinivasa Silver Screen
Cast: Naga Chaitanya, Krithi Shetty, Arvind Swami, Priyamani, Sarath Kumar, Sampath Raj, Vennela Kishore, Premi Vishwanath and others
Dialogues: Abburi Ravi
Music Directors: Ilaiyaraaja & Yuvan Shankar Raja
Cinematography: SR Kathir
Editor: Venkat Raajen
Action Director: Stun Shiva and Mahesh Mathew
Producer: Srinivasaa Chitturi
Written and Direction: Venkat Prabhu
Release Date: May 05, 2023

Tamil director Venkat Prabhu is known for his quirky dramas and stylish action thrillers. His collaboration with Naga Chaitanya piqued interest. Furthermore, this is the first collaboration between maestro Ilayaraja and his son Yuvan Shankar Raja.

Let's see if the film lives up to the interest generated by the big names.

The story takes place in 1996 near Sakhinetipalli. Shiva (Naga Chaitanya) is an honest police constable who does not hesitate to stop the CM's convoy to allow an ambulance to pass.

Shiva is head over heels in love with Revathi (Krithi Shetty), but her family decides to marry her off to Prem (Vennela Kishore) and arranges for the wedding to take place in Tirupathi.

As Shiva prepares to elope with Revathi, a CBI officer (Sampath Raj) and criminal Raju (Arvind Swamy) arrive in his cell, causing a dramatic turn of events.

Shiva is now determined to hand over Raju in court the next day in Bangalore. However, his senior officers and Chief Minister Dakshayani (Priyamani) try to prevent him from presenting Raju in court. Why?

Artistes’ Performances:
Naga Chaitanya is sincere in his role as a constable. The role doesn't give him much room to shine, but he does it well.

Krithi Shetty, who plays his girlfriend, also performs neatly.

Aravind Swamy's role is quite interesting in the beginning portions, but his role becomes monotonous in the second half.

Sarath Kumar is effective in a negative role. Priyamani has the right body language for the role of Chief Minister.

Jeeva and Anandini appear in cameo roles. Vennela Kishore's comedy is of the routine variety. Goparaju Ramana gets full marks as Naga Chaitanya's father.

Technical Excellence:
Aside from the cinematography, the best part of this film is its action stunts. Two action episodes stand out as fantastic, as well as a single-cut fight sequence and a pre-interval action episode that takes place inside a reservoir. The cinematography, too, is top-class.

That being said, the songs in the film are mediocre. Despite having masters like Ilayaraja and Yuvan Shankar Raja, their output in terms of songs has been underwhelming. On the other hand, the background score is good.

Two action episodes
Pre-interval drama
Naga Chaitanya’s sincere portrayal

Clumsy second half
No highs in the screenplay
Boring songs

In interviews, director Venkat Prabhu stated that the Malayalam film "Nayattu" inspired him to write the story of "Custody." There are some thematic similarities, but this film is nowhere near the Malayalam film in terms of gripping screenplay or honest filmmaking.

The film starts with a bomb blast and immediately introduces hero Naga Chaitanya and his problems in his love story because his girlfriend's parents have arranged a marriage with another guy. This episode also includes two songs and a lot of dull moments. The film does not engage us until Arvind Swamy enters the scene.

Arvind Swamy alters the narrative's trajectory, and the proceedings become quite interesting. Venkat Prabhu not only cast Arvind Swamy as a beedi-smoking rowdy sheeter but also filmed a lengthy and stunning action sequence involving him in a reservoir. This entire stretch is fascinating to watch.

The interval bang arrives just in time and makes us eager for the rest of the drama. However, after the first half, the film quickly deviates from its original course. The story's holes and logical issues begin to emerge.

The entire second half is devoted to Naga Chaitanya's attempt to present Arvind Swamy in court, with no thrills or twists. Instead of narrating this section concisely, Venkat Prabhu includes a flashback episode, a Tirunalla episode, a small fight between lovers, a boring pelli song, and another pathos song. It just goes on and on. Furthermore, we suddenly see a machine gun scene, similar to those seen in "Vikram" and "KGF." Venkat Prabhu has clearly lost the plot here.

Coming to logical issues, it is hard to believe that the CBI officers are so powerless when state police officers do such wrongs.

Overall, "Custody" has some intriguing moments in the middle, but it becomes clumsy as the film progresses and turns out to be a bore. The writing is messy.

Bottom line: Lacks Grip


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