11 user 8 critic

In Custody (1994)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 6 May 1994 (USA)
An editor asks Deven, a teacher who loves Urdu poetry, to interview poet Nur Shahjehanabadi, an aging whale of a man. Deven goes to Bhopal from Mirpur to meet Nur, of whom he is in awe. He ... See full summary »


Ismail Merchant


Anita Desai (novel), Anita Desai (script) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Shashi Kapoor ... Nur
Shabana Azmi ... Imtiaz Begum
Om Puri ... Deven
Sushma Seth ... Safiya Begum
Neena Gupta ... Sarla
Tinnu Anand ... Murad
Prayag Raj Prayag Raj ... Jain
Parikshit Sahni ... Siddiqui
Sagar Arya ... Chiku
Alakh Nandan Alakh Nandan ... Trivedi
Yusuf Khurram Yusuf Khurram ... Young Poet
Riju Bajaj Riju Bajaj ... Young Poet
Maza Bi Maza Bi ... Safiya's Attendant
Nayeem Hafizka Nayeem Hafizka ... Young Poet
Virendra Saxena ... Young Poet (as Veerendra Saxena)


An editor asks Deven, a teacher who loves Urdu poetry, to interview poet Nur Shahjehanabadi, an aging whale of a man. Deven goes to Bhopal from Mirpur to meet Nur, of whom he is in awe. He finds him living with feuding wives, visited by sycophants who drink his whisky and eat his food. Deven wants to record Nur for posterity and seeks funds to buy an aged tape recorder, to bribe Safiya, the elder wife, to get Nur into a room at a brothel for a week for the recording, and to feed Nur's pals who show up. Nur's beautiful second wife, Imtiaz, wants to be taken seriously as a poetess. Dever dismisses her and ignores his own wife and child much as Nur does. In the end, what is preserved? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements and mild language | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


All the poetry used in this movie is written by a Pakistani poet named Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who died ten years before this movie was released. See more »

User Reviews

Good to see Merchant without Ivory
13 May 2006 | by proserpineSee all my reviews

The Ivory-Merchant duo are known for their luxurious-looking films, the camera often caressing each fish-fork with the same love it displays for the protagonist. It's somewhat refreshing here to see Merchant without Ivory. Merchant's camera displays the same love for detail that the Ivory-Merchant duo's does, except that it is much grittier, caressing the protagonist's vomit with the same attention that it bestows upon his exquisite Jamewaar shawl. I refer to Shashi Kapoor as the protagonist, because he steals the role away from Om Puri. Om Puri plays the timid Deven, a college professor bent on interviewing his idol, the formerly grand but now-alcoholic Urdu poet, Nur. Shashi Kapoor is perfect as the obese, alcoholic, henpecked, decaying poet because his own appearance encapsulates this decay. Those who do not recognize him as the hero in scores of Bollywood films or in many early Ivory-Merchant productions will miss the subtlety of this cinematic reference, because Kapoor's own physical decay perfectly encapsulates the theme of decay that is central to the film. Shabana Azmi is as competent as ever, bringing a hint of feminism to her character's plagiarism of her husband's work, as well as highlighting the inherently masculinist nature of the poetry that confines a woman's role to the object of desire and nothing else.

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UK | India


Urdu | Hindi

Release Date:

6 May 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hifazaat See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,701, 17 April 1994

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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