'Custody', produced by Srinivasa Chitturi under Srinivasaa Silver Screen, was released in theatres today.
The story is set in 1996 and 1998 somewhere in Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister Dakshayani (Priyamani) is ostensibly evil and power-hungry. When constable Shiva (Naga Chaitanya) accidentally catches hold of Raju (Arvind Swamy), the CM's trusted collaborator, the stage is set for a David Vs Goliath fight. Shiva must rise above his ordinariness to help the CBI submit Raju before a court in Bengaluru, giving nightmares to the CM. Shiva is running out of time, as he must finish the task in 24 hours even as the CM and IG Nataraj (R Sarathkumar) are out to prevent him from doing so.
Chaitanya appears to enjoy playing his most emotionally action-centric role. But a lot of scenes fall short of enough gravitas because of his not-so-involved performance. Krithi Shetty, after playing lacklustre roles in 'The Warriorr' and relatively easier parts in films like 'Shyam Singha Roy', is better here despite a dubbing that sounds old-school.
Priyamani throws subtlety to the winds. Her characterization is a thorough bore. R Sarathkumar proves to be a supporting artist lacking zeal. His dubbing and scenes are unsettling. Sampath Raj doesn't create an impact. Ravi Prakash (as an SI) is another misfit. Goparaju Ramana as the hero's father Ramki as a judge do justice to their respective roles.
A notorious flaw is that 'Custody' feels like a Tamil movie in terms of casting. Chay and Krithi look like they are placed in a non-native setting.
Maestro Ilaiyaraaja and Yuvan Shankar Raja spoil the first 25 minutes with these two songs: 'Head Up High' and 'Timeless Love'. The sentimental song in the second half's flashback works relatively. The BGM is dull in many places. The elevations are cool in fits and starts.
SR Kathir of 'Jai Bhim' fame doesn't transport us to the 1990s. Somehow, even the production design is generic. Venkat Raajen's editing is mediocre. The transitions don't work well.
In a pre-release interview, director Venkat Prabhu stated that the Malayalam film 'Nayattu' stoked an idea in him to write 'Custody'. There was also a talk of a sequel to the film in an attempt to create curiosity. Everything from the film's undisclosed yet unprecedented (for a Chaitanya movie) budget to the casting choices was hyped up. In the end, though, the film lacks both tension and edginess.
Chaitanya's characterization doesn't work even though the writing department ticks all the right boxes. He is so idealistic that he will interrupt the CM's convoy to save a life. The obedient son in him is too scared to talk about his love in front of his father. Krithi Shetty's Revathi is a driving instructor who gets to travel with the hero and villain throughout. Situational humour works here and there. The actors, too, come with decent comic timing.
Despite the plus points, the film fails to evoke a sense of curiosity about the crisis the hero is in. The story takes place in an era when mobile phones were unaffordable to the masses. The script makes use of this period setting to create contrived thrills. The action doesn't quite hit the bull's eye in the absence of a thorough crisis staring in front of Shiva.
Abburi Ravi's dialogues are a mixed bag. The much-vaunted underwater sequence, dam scene and chases prove to be half-decent at best.
'Custody' is contrived. It fails to create edgy moments.