Ram Venkat Srikar
The most enjoyable bits of Custody emerge from its self-aware writing. The film might be set in 1998 but songs and dialogues from recent films and at one point, a hilarious reference to Vikram (2022) are planted to evoke humour.
What makes the film enjoyable despite the familiar plot points are its likeable characters, humour in the oddest of situations and some well-shot action set pieces. The writing is clean and gives some purpose to the characters.
The moment when Shiva decides to save Raju’s life leads up to a cracker of an action sequence that’s stitched up to look like a single shot. And Venkat Prabhu doesn’t give Naga Chaitanya a traditional ‘mass’ elevation shot although it is a wonderful heroic moment; the heroism here emanates from the fact that Shiva is choosing to do the right thing.
That brings me to a qualm I have with Custody and films in general. Why do our heroes need to be given personal motivation? Why can’t Shiva just be a sincere constable who is driven by sheer rigour and willing to put his life on the fence for the truth to prevail?
In fact, the film brims with energy and Venkat Prabhu-isms. Take, for instance, the incredibly funny dig at the film's Tamil-Telugu bilingual format in the second half. I don't want to ruin it for you, but when you see it, you know that it's a scream and nobody other than Venkat Prabhu would have done something so quirky in an otherwise serious film.