"Take movies, music, poetry out of life & its gone!"
 
In Custody / Muhafiz (1994) (Movies To See Before You Die - Drama)
14 Jan, 2014 | Movies To See Before You Die / Drama

In Custoy

Merchant Ivory Productions is known for a specific kind of cinema, especially when it comes to portray India and its cultural heritage. But IN CUSTODY (Muhafiz) is a film which clearly stands out from its notable repertoire and is probably the most harsh and purposeful film made by the renowned production house on an Indian theme. Directed by Ismail Merchant (his debut venture), it’s an adaptation of Anita Desai’s novel with the same title and revolves around the fictional account of a few weeks relationship between a reputed poet and his sincere fan, who wishes to record his live interview for a magazine.
 
Actually apart from its cinematic excellence, the film needs to be given its due appreciation and importance, since there are not many projects made on the subject of Urdu poets and the dying state of Urdu language in the country. Though the basic structure of the film, comically talks about the failed interview attempt of a caring fan, but it still brings forward this crucial issue of the forgotten language and remains one of the very few films made on this particular theme till date. The execution also becomes satirical at times but the director keeps his focus intact and insightfully captures the final days lived by the famous poet, fighting hard with his obese ailing body and two nagging wives in their old house in Bhopal.
 
The script has many interesting as well as entertaining sequences to keep you hooked, wherein the poet has his daily sessions of poetry, food and rum with his opportunist, mean followers. The excited professor tries his best to record the interview, bribing the poet’s elder wife, without getting any concrete results in hand. His assistant fails to run the old tape recorder properly, missing many important moments with the poet. And then the known personality eventually dies without giving any detailed interview but leaves his all unpublished work for the professor as his farewell gift.
 
Ismail gives a poetic feel to the movie with an excellent use of well composed music, ghazals, meaningful couplets and realistic tone throughout. The art department takes a good care of its authentic frames and cinematography skillfully captures the same in a pensive mood. Basically pointing towards the dying art of Urdu poetry, the language and its proper understanding, the film uses many symbolic insertions in its presentation. For instance the decaying house represents the poet’s deteriorating health, his two wives and the old lady speaks for the feminine angle in the story, his opportunist friends represent the unemployed youth taking advantage of the poet’s hunger of recognition, the college staff denotes the way Urdu language is looked upon in the changing times. And then in its final scene, the demolition of a building in the backdrop of professor holding the unpublished works of the dead poet, indicates towards the unfortunate end of an era, which will soon be left in only books to be later studied by the coming generations. Plus the film comes up with another thoughtful representation of the hard truth that often great artists die with a similar hidden frustration and lack of love or warmth in their final days.
 
In its performance section, the characters are played by all exceptional actors with great conviction, especially Om Puri who is just perfect as the professor trying hard to get his much needed interview. Shashi Kapoor effortlessly enacts the dying poet and Shabana Azmi is remarkable as the second wife who also wants to become a known poet. In the supporting cast there are many small but worth noticing acts by Sushma Seth, Neena Gupta, Tinnu Anand, Parikshit Sahni, Virender Saxena, Prayag Raj and more. The entire poetry used in the movie is written by the well-known Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz who died much before the film was released and its rich soundtrack is composed by Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Sultan Khan.
 
In short IN CUSTODY is one of those very rare films made on the dying art of Urdu Shayri, the lyrical culture and its shining exponents. So if you do have a keen interest in this poetic theme then watch it at the earliest as one does need to support & spread a good word for such purposeful and precious films made whole heartedly.
 
Directed By Ismail Merchant
Written by Anita Desai (novel)& Shahrukh Husain (script)
Starring : Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri and more.

Tags : In Custody (1994), Muhafiz, Movies To See Before You Die Drama, Must See Films on Urdu Language, Urdu Poetry, Must Watch Films List by Bobby Sing,Not To Be Missed Movies List by Bobby Sing, Worth Watching Classics List by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com
14 Jan 2014 / Comments ( 6 )
UNKNOWN

In Custody / Muhafiz (1994), IS INDEED A RARE MOVIE. FOR PRESENT DAY YOUTH TO UNDERSTAND THIS MOVIE, THEY SHOULD WATCH IT AFTER THEY CROSS THE AGE OF 50.

PEOPLE YEARNING FOR WARMTH & A PERSON WHO CAN LEND HIS EARS FOR A FEW MOMENTS; a FEELING OF A TALENTED PERSON WHOSE TALENT HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN OR NOT RECOGNIZED IS PORTRAYED IN THE BEST POSSIBLE MANNER.

FINALLY, THE LAST SCENE WHEN THE POETS COMPILATION ARE LAID TO REST ALONG WITH HIM IS ALSO A VERY TELLING SCENE WHICH VERY FEW CAN UNDERTAND.

Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot friend for your visit and insightful comment.

Keep Visiting and Writing in.
HIS BLESSINGS

Arun Kumar
I had seen this twice but long back. Still remember in bits and pieces. It was probably last film of Shashi Kapoor. Thanks for remembering it to me. I shall try to catch it again on DVD, if available.
Bobby Sing

Thanks for writing in Arun Kumar and do try to watch it again as its indeed a film to be cherishes by all.
Please do check as I think it should be available at Youtube too.

Keep Visiting and Writing in.
Cheers!

anonymous

In Custody (Muhafiz) 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdwTLXflIOQ

If you wanna watch the best poetic movie of bollywood, watch this.

1993 - In custody hindi movie - Om puri and Shashi Kapoor - Shashi Kapoor as an aging poet of a dying Language. Its a gem of a movie - soothing poetic journey into the life of a poet. Great performances by shashi kapoor and om puri and the rest of the cast.

Aaj ik harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal (My mind is groping for a word today,)
Madh bhara harf koi, zeher bhara harf koi (A word as sweet as wine, as bitter as poison)
Dil-nashin harf koi, qeher bhara harf koi (A word that bewitches but is full of rage)
Aaj ik harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal.. (My mind is groping for a word today)

Harf-e-ulfat koi dildar-e-nazar ho jaise (A word as desirable as the lover herself)
Jis-se milti hai nazar bosa-e-lab ki surat (Whose glance is like a kiss on the lips)
Itna roshan ke sare-mauja-e-zar ho jaise (As radiant as a sea of gold)
Sohbat-e-yaar main aghaaz-e-tarab ki surat (In the company of a lover, where love is blossoming)
Harf-e-nafrat koi shamsheer-e-ghazab ho jaise (A hateful word cuts like a terrible sword)
Aaj ik harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal..(My mind is groping for a word today)

Ta abad shahre-sitam jis-se tabah ho jayein (A word that could destroy this city of sorrow forever)
Itna tariq ke shamshan ki shab ho jaise (As dark as the grave)
Lab pe laoon to mere honth siyah ho jayein (So dark that my lips turn black)
Aaj ik harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal…(My mind is groping for a word today)

aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chalo;
chashm-e-nam, jaan-e-shoriidaa kaafii nahiiN;
tohmat-e-ishq-poshiidaa kaafii nahiiN;
aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chalo

(paa-bajaulaa -  shackles on feet like a prisoner, chashm-e-nam : teary eyes; jaan-e-shoriidaa : distressed soul; poshiidaa : hidden)

dast-afshaaN chalo, mast-o-raqsaaN chalo;
Khaak-bar-sar chalo, Khuun-baa-damaaN chalo;
raah taktaa hai sab shahar-e-janaan chalo;
aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chalo

(dast-e-afshaaN : swinging hands; mast-o-raqsaaN : dancing in trance; Khaak-bar-sar : kicking the dust; khuun-baa-damaaN : blood on sleeves; shahar-e-janaaN : city of the beloved)

haakim-e-shahar bhii, majmaa-e-aam bhii;
tiir-e-ilzaam bhii, sang-e-dushnaam bhii;
subh-e-nashaad bhii, roz-e-nakaam bhii;
aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chalo

(haakim-e-shahar : ruler of the city; majmaa-e-aam : the crowd of common people; tiir-e-ilzaam : arrow of accusation; sang-e-dushnam : the stones of accusation; subh-e-nashaad : morning of sorrow; roz-e-nakaam : a day of failure)

in kaa damsaaz apne sivaa kaun hai;
shahar-e-jaanaN meN ab baa-safaa kaun hai;
dast-e-qaatil ke shaayaaN rahaa kaun hai

(damsaaz : friend; baa-safaa : sincere; dast-e-qaatil : hands of the murderer; shaayaaN : worthy)

rakht-e-dil baandh lo, dil figaaro chalo
phir hamiiN qatl ho aayeN yaaro chalo
aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chalo

Bobby Sing

Thanks Anonymous for your detailed comment.
However I will really appreciate if comments are posted with a valid name and email to respond.

Cheers!

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