‘Custody’: The Hits and Misses of a Venkat Prabhu Hunt

“Custody” is a 90s-set action thriller that weaves unexpected twists, humour, and charm while falling short in delivering a consistently engaging cinematic experience.

Plot: A Twisted Tale of Duty and Dilemmas

Our story unfolds in the late 90s, with our hero Shiva (Naga Chaitanya), a morally upright police constable. Chaitanya’s character name might be inspired by Ram Gopal Varma’s Shiva, starring Nagarjuna Akkineni as a young rebel.

His introduction isn’t a typical fight scene, he doesn’t flex muscles but halts a Chief Minister’s ( Priyamani) car to make way for an ambulance.

Next, we’re shown his love life, where he’s planning to elope with his quirky girlfriend, Revathi (Krithi Shetty). The plot thickens when Shiva, in a twist of fate, gets entangled with a dangerous criminal, Raju (Arvind Swami).

Now, Shiva’s mission is to escort Raju to court while dodging the corrupt police officer IG Nataraj (Sharat Kumar) and the entire state police force.

Sounds like quite the thrill ride, doesn’t it? But don’t get too excited;
It’s like expecting a giant fireworks show and only getting a sparkler.

End credits from Custody

Custody: A Hunt with Missed Opportunities

Venkat Prabhu always aims to mix comedy and thrills in his films. This is like trying to make a tricky cocktail, where the humour is a refreshing breeze on a hot day. However, in “Custody”, the comedy didn’t hit the mark as expected. Premji seems to have lost the special spark we used to see in other Venkat Prabhu films.

The movie takes some time getting to the main conflict, which can test the patience of the audience. It fumbles when it attempts to explore an emotional backstory, making it feel a tad cliched. The comedy track could also have been sharper, and the action sequences more impactful.

In simple words, it could have been more focussed to the core theme (like Maanadu) and it demands a more brutal editing.

Performances: The Best, The Better, and The Missed Opportunities

In all Venkat Prabhu films, the actors’ performances are the beating heart, and it’s no different in “Custody.” But there is a difference, in Maanadu, you can see a competition between STR & S J Suryah, but here you won’t.

Naga Chaitanya as Shiva wears the role of the morally upright constable. His attempt to portray a character is commendable. While he convincingly plays the underdog, there are moments where we feel a seasoned actor could have added more depth and intensity to the role. It’s not that he doesn’t bring his A-game, but the character of Shiva could have had more facets explored. There are places where the character’s emotional depth doesn’t quite resonate convincingly. Still, it is arguably one of his best performances yet.

Arvind Samy as Raju from Custody

Arvind Swami as Raju is truly the show-stealer in this film. He beautifully balances the serious nature of his character with unexpected elements of humour. This is where the movie triumphs – in its character portrayals. Aravind Swami’s portrayal of the hardened criminal is not just intense but also delightfully entertaining. He adds a dash of humour even in the most tense moments, which keeps the narrative engaging. His character is a testament to Swami’s versatility as an actor.

Krithi Shetty as Revathy does a good job within the limited scope of her role. Her performance is impressive, and she adds charm to the screen. While her character remains a “nice to have” one in the film to add tension, the screenplay does not offer her much to contribute significantly to the plot. However, she does manage to leave an impact despite being the love interest that does not directly influence the main plotline.

Sharath Kumar as IG Nataraj delivers a strong performance. He embraces the character of the corrupt police officer with ease and manages to exude both menace and class. His screen presence is strong and adds value to the film. But I really wish S J Suryah could have tried the role of I G Natraj.

In addition, the film boasts some starry cameo appearances (I don’t want to spoil the surprise) that are sure to thrill the audience. One such cameo is by Ramki, which, despite being cliched, adds a massy feel to the scene.

Aesthetics and Score: An Ode to the 90s

The technical aspects of the film are appreciable.

Rajeevan, the production designer, and Kathir, the cinematographer, did a great job making it feel like you’ve gone back in time.

Yuvan Shnkar Raja mixed in some of Ilaiyaraaja’s older hits that fit right in and sound even better than the new songs.

Lastly, Venkat Prabhu used some references to take you back to the 90’s . Like, the main guy’s name is ‘Shiva’, as I mentioned before, it’s from a popular 90’s movie. Premji’s sequences with Mani Ratnam’s Mouna Ragam music. 

Why Watch ‘Custody’: The Final Verdict

In a nutshell: So, should you watch “Custody”?

It’s an average thriller cop story with an intriguing plot, some thrilling twists, and memorable performances.

It may not be the best movie you’ll watch this weekend, but if you’re a fan of Arvind Swami, or classy villains, or if you’re in the mood for an okayish thriller with some twists and turns or gripping background score, then go for it.

But don’t expect too much, or you might be disappointed. Just sit back, grab your popcorn, and enjoy the Venkat prabhu’s Hunt.

For more reviews, click here.

Vyavastha: Anand Ranga’s Legal Drama Lacks a Depth

I was searching for a thriller webseries and chose Vyavastha a Zee5 webseries based on its intriguing one-liner:

“On their wedding night, Yamini (Hebah Patel) is arrested for her husband’s murder. Vamsi (Karthik Rathnam), a young lawyer who cares for her, takes her case and tries to save her from Chakraborty (Sampath Raj), a crooked and influential lawyer in the city.”

Sounds interesting, right?

However, although it looks great on paper, the on-screen result is a cliched webseries that follows Vamsi as he tries to prove Yamini’s innocence while battling a corrupt lawyer.

Vyavastha webseries suffers from poor execution and weak scripting, making it worth watching only once if you’re interested in courtroom dramas.

Vyavastha poster

Poor Direction and Below Average Screenplay

Director Anand Ranga establishes a promising premise with a strong foundation for an engaging legal battle. The first episode reminds me of the 2020 Netflix series “Raat Akeli Hei.”

However, from the second episode, I realized that the series is a mediocre attempt with a template screenplay filled with some predictable and insipid events.

A scene from Vyavastha

The intensity and emotional depth are lacking, but to some extend, Karthick Rathnam’s performance helps balance these shortcomings. The subplots and conflicts, which could have enriched the story, are underdeveloped and lose momentum as the series progresses.

Vyavastha starts with a bang, but then it’s just a humming from episode 2 to episode 7, and finally, in episode 8, you can see a rushed conclusion that may also leave you unsatisfied.

I believe that after the first episode, you can directly watch episode 8, and it won’t make much difference even if you skip the episodes in between.

Performances & Technical Aspects

Karthik Rathnam impresses as Vamsi, a lawyer committed to justice, while Sampath Raj’s ruthless and greedy lawyer Chakraborty boasts a strong presence. Hebah Patel provide a decent performance within her characters’ limitations, and it was a surprise to see Kamna Jethmalini after a gap, nothing more to say about her character.

Hebah Patel

Anil Bandari’s cinematography is adequate, but the law firm sequences could have used a more polished presentation. There isn’t much to say about the art department, as it’s even worse. The courtroom setup is unconvincing. Vyavastha is suffocating at multiple places because of thsi poor technical aspects.

Naresh Kumaran’s background score does its job but isn’t exceptional, and it doesn’t leave a lasting impact.

Reasons to Watch Vyavastha webseries:

  • Engaging premise and intriguing plot (But spoiled from E02-E07))
  • Strong performances from Karthik Rathnam and Sampath Raj
  • Some well-written dialogues

Reasons to Skip Vyavastha webseries:

  • Poor execution and weak screenplay
  • Underdeveloped subplots and conflicts
  • Engagement is limited to the first and last episodes.

Despite a solid plot and commendable performances, the series falls short due to poor execution and a weak screenplay.

For more reviews click here.

Dasara Movie: A Mixed Cocktail of Themes and Emotions

Introducing Dasara, it’s a Blend of Familiar Elements, that’s my one word for this film.

Srikanth Odela, is the recent pass-out from the school of director Sukumar, after Buchi Bbau. So, there is no wonder why his latest release, Dasara evoking memories of Rangasthalam and Pushpa.

Chitti Babu Rangasthalam, Pushpa, Dharani in Dasara

Rather than delivering a raw revenge thriller, Dasara serves up a concoction of influences from Rangasthalam, KGF, and Kantara, all while incorporating themes such as casteism, friendship, love, heartbreak, politics, alcoholism, misogyny, twists, and even mythology. Despite offering a wide array of elements, the movie fails to deliver anything truly special or unique.

A Rustic Setting with Flawed Character Development

Set in the dusty village of Veerlapalle, where a deeply ingrained caste system prevails, Dasara follows the story of Dharani (Nani) and his friend Suri (Dheekshith Shetty), who both fall in love with the same girl, Vennela (Keerthy Suresh).

Dheekshith Shetty, Keerthi Suresh & Nani

The first half of the movie focuses on the Silk bar, a morning meeting place for the village men. Here, our hero and his friends steal coal from passing goods trains to make ends meet. Sadly, the introduction to this world is somewhat lackluster.

In the second half movie shifts from ‘Silk’ Bar to Vennela, who is the love interest of Dharani and Suri.(No Spoiler)

Nani’s introduction scene with the title card “Natural Star” feels forced and inorganic. The major problem with Dasara is that the character arcs and the events surrounding the central characters are too predictable. For example tehre is a scene in the second half where Shine Tom’s character confronts with Vennela, it ended up so amateurish and lacks conviction because of the poor writings. The director’s attempt to establish numerous elements in a short time frame ultimately dilutes the intensity of the script’s foundation.

Performances: Shine Tom Chacko Shines, Nani doesn’t seem Natural

Shine Tom Chacko’s standout performance comes with ease and a minimalist approach in his devilish moments. Unfortunately, his character lacks opportunities to elevate the film’s experience. Besides Shine Tom, it’s Nani’s one-man show, there are many moments where he excelled at ease, especially emotional moments, but his rugged character shades fails to convince.

The climax brings Kantara to mind, highlighting the absence of a more “ruthless bulky” character. Unfortunately, neither the music nor editing support Nani in creating a “Make-Belive” moment.

Nani as Dharani in Dasara

Keerthy Suresh delivers a decent performance, but her character could have been more fleshed out. I was expecting a Draupadi, but I got a Sita who suffer in between Ram and Raavana. Her Telangana dialect is surprisingly well-executed, though.

Keerthi Suresh as Vennela in Dasara

Music and Pacing: Room for Improvement

Santhosh Narayan’s music offers little that is noteworthy, and the lack of high-octane background music or emotionally stirring tunes is disappointing. Dasara could have been a stronger film if the events and character arcs been better developed. In comparison to Rangasthalam, where Chitti Babu’s character arc slowly evolves and leaves the audience with goosebumps, Dasara’s fast pacing results in a disconnect from the audience’s emotional investment.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Dasara’s potential hindered by weak writing and vision. Dasara had the potential to be an industry hit, it falls short due to weak roots in Srikanth Odela’s writing and vision. I hope Nani’s aggressive marketing will reward Dasara with a super-hit tag, but will likely lack a lasting impact.