In Custody

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In Custody

by Ismail Merchant




Director: Ismail Merchant

Script: Anita Desai, Shahrukh Husain adapted from a novel by Anita Desai

Cinematographer: Larry Pizer

Editing: Roberto Silvi

Music: Zakir Hussain, Ustad Sultan Khan

Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, Neena Gupta, Sushma Seth, Ajay Sahani

Production: Merchant Ivory Productions

Year: 1993

35 mm, Colour, 126 min, 
OV Hindi & Urdu with French Subtitles


Deven is a modest Hindi teacher in a small Indian town today. He has a passion for Urdu poetry and dreams to meet Nur, the greatest Urdu poet in India. Deven hopes to rekindle interest in the language by recording Nur reciting his magical verse. He convinces a friend editor of a magazine of poetry and a friend part of the college staff to get him a tape recorder and goes to Bhopal to meet him. Nur spends most his time drinking with his young followers who make fun of Deven, who has also to deal with Nur’s two shrewish wives hating each other. Deven pursues his ideal against all odds…

In this wry, lyrical comic drama about Indian culture, society and domestic life, Ismail Merchant pays a moving tribute to the sophistication and the beauty of Urdu literary tradition of which he was a fine connoisseur.

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