In Custody or Muhafiz completes 25 years on Tuesday. Directed by Ismail Merchant, this Merchant Ivory productions film starred Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Om Puri in the lead. The film was based on Anita Desai’s Booker Prize nominated novel In Custody.
Shabana Azmi took to Twitter to share a few nostalgic message as cinephiles celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary. She wrote: 3 of my colleagues from #In Custody are no more #Ismail Merchant #Om puri #Shashi Kapoor.”
Azmi, who played Imtiaz Begum in the film, second wife to Nur Shahjehanabadi played by Kapoor, was much appreciated for her character in the film. Imtiaz Begum, who wants to be taken seriously as a poetess, “… shayari koi mardon ki jaageer nahi hai, aur tumhe bhi manna padega main sahi mayeno mein shayara huin…” immortalized this dialogue from the film.
The film, which was Merchant’s directorial feature film, addressed a subject close to him, Urdu language and the danger of its extinction with changing political trends and modernisation.
The film dealt with the binary of tradition and modernisation in culture through its lead characters, an aging Urdu poet played by Shashi Kapoor and an ardent admirer- a college lecturer (Om Puri).
Anita Desai adapted her novel with Shahrukh Husain incorporating poems of renowned Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
The movie also won the President of India Gold Medal for Best Picture in 1994 besides winning the National Film Award.
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) April 16, 2019