Custody is a 2023 Indian action thriller film directed by Venkat Prabhu and starring Naga Chaitanya, Aravind Swamy, Krithi Shetty, Priyamani, and R. Sarathkumar. The film is inspired by the 2006 Hollywood film 16 Blocks and revolves around a police constable who has to escort a gangster-turned-witness from police custody to the court, while facing attacks from corrupt cops and politicians. The film was released in Telugu and Tamil languages on May 12, 2023.
The film is set in 1998 and follows Shiva (Naga Chaitanya), a happy-go-lucky police constable, who along with his girlfriend Revathi (Krithi Shetty), a driving instructor, decides to elope and get married. However, Shiva gets involved in a road rage case and arrests Rajasekhar alias Raju (Aravind Swamy), a dreaded gangster who does dirty jobs for CM Dakshayani (Priyamani) and her party. CBI George (Sampath Raj), who is also imprisoned by Shiva in the case, reveals that he has to produce Raju in court situated at Bangalore within 48 hours as Regarding Dakshayani’s involvement in a planned bombing at Morampudi, Raju has important information. Shiva calls George’s superior Varghese (Jayaprakash) and confirms the same.
Meanwhile, Dakshayani learns of Raju’s arrest and assigns some goons and IG Nataraj (R. Sarathkumar) to kill him. The goons of Nataraj and Dakshyini attempt to assassinate Raju and George, but Shiva defeats them and flees with them. George, Raju, and Shiva journey to Bangalore, Revathi goes with them. They are found by Nataraj when their vehicle crashes into a lake close to a dam.
Shiva, Raju, Revathi and George
Sneak into the dam’s underground tunnel, where Nataraj attacks them and George is killed in a crossfire. Shiva and the others flee from Nataraj and head to a hospital because Raju was hurt in the earlier gunfight, but Nataraj’s men are keeping an eye on the hospital. Later, the trio arrive at Maj. Gen. Philips (Ramki) and Raju gets treated and recovers. After this, Shiva and the others are escorted by officers under Varghese’s orders, but Nataraj and his goons surround them. Raju and Shiva battle the men, where Philips also arrives and helps Shiva and the others to escape.
Unexpected events allow Raju to escape, and he arrives at a fair, but Shiva locates him. When Nataraj shows up, he orders Shiva to murder Raju in return for his father’s death. However, Shiva’s father tells Shiva to leave and seek justice for his brother Vishnu (Jiiva), who also died in the Morampudi blast. Shiva refuses to kill Raju and shoots Nataraj instead. Raju then reveals that he has a pen drive containing the evidence of Dakshayani’s crimes and gives it to Shiva. Shiva and Raju reach the court and expose Dakshayani, who is arrested along with her associates. Raju is granted immunity for his testimony and decides to start a new life. Shiva and Revathi get married and live happily.
Custody is a film that tries to be a gripping and realistic action thriller, but falls short of its potential due to a predictable and cliched plot, weak character development, and lack of originality. The film borrows heavily from the Hollywood film 16 Blocks, but fails to capture the same intensity and suspense. The film also suffers from a slow pace, unnecessary songs, and a lengthy runtime.
The film’s saving grace is the performance of the lead actors, especially Naga Chaitanya and Aravind Swamy, who share a good chemistry and deliver convincing performances as the cop and the gangster. Naga Chaitanya shows his versatility and maturity as an actor, while Aravind Swamy brings a charm and charisma to his role. Krithi Shetty is also impressive as the feisty and supportive girlfriend of Shiva. Priyamani and R. Sarathkumar are adequate as the villains, but their characters are one-dimensional and stereotypical.
The film’s technical aspects are decent, with the cinematography by S. R. Kathir and the editing by Venkat Raajen being noteworthy. The music by Ilaiyaraaja and Yuvan Shankar Raja is a mixed bag, with some songs being melodious and catchy, while others being unnecessary and distracting. The background score by Yuvan Shankar Raja is effective and enhances the mood of the film.
Custody is a film that has a promising premise and a talented cast, but fails to deliver a satisfying and thrilling action drama. The film is partially engaging and entertaining, but not watertight and original. The film is a decent one-time watch for the fans of the genre and the actors, but not a memorable or remarkable one.