Custody review: A competent cop drama that keeps the viewers invested in spite of its shortcomings

Venkat Prabhu’s latest directorial takes time to find its feet but eventually gets better as the plot becomes thicker.

ByPrabhatha Rigobertha

Published:Aug 10, 2023

Naga Chaitanya Custody
Watch it for Aravind Swami and Naga Chaitanya!

Custody (Telugu)

  • Cast: Naga Chaitanya Akkineni, Krithi Shetty, Arvind Swami, Priya Mani, Sarath Kumar, Sampath Raj, Premji Amaren, Vennela Kishore, and Premi Vishwanath
  • Writer-Director: Venkat Prabhu
  • Producer: Srinivasaa Chitturi
  • Music: Ilaiyaraaja and Yuvan Shankar Raja
  • Runtime: 2 hours 28 minutes

Cop dramas usually have a superhero cop who takes on an army of villains and vigilante justice is delivered. Venkat Prabhu’s Custody belongs to a slightly different space.

Here, Naga Chaitanya’s Shiva has the duty of protecting a goonda (criminal) and making sure that he is produced before the court, without any harm.

Another factor that makes Custody different from other movies of the same genre is the fact that Shiva is a constable, not a higher official. There is an underdog quality about him that makes him endearing.


The movie is set in the 1990s. Its opening shot is a terrible incident where 40 people die in a small town due to a gas cylinder blast. After that, we cut to the constable Shiva.

Naga chaitanya in Custody

Naga Chaitanya in a still from ‘Custody’. (Twitter)

Shiva is someone who believes that human life is more important than anything else. This is wonderfully established when he rushes to stop the convoy of the Chief Minister (Priya Mani) so that an ambulance can pass.

Revathi (Krithi Shetty) is Shiva’s love interest. They both have a steady relationship for a while but there are some serious obstacles from her parents’ side.

Things take a turn with a car accident when Shiva is on the way to her house to save her from a forced marriage.

After the accident, two men are seen fighting – one is Raju (Aravind Swami) and the other is a CBI official George (Sampath Raj). Shiva ends up arresting both.

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On reaching the police station, Shiva learns the true identity of Raju, a well-connected goonda with political backing. He needs to be produced at the Bangalore court in the next 24 hours to testify against some influential people.

Ventak Prabhu with team Custody

Director Ventak Prabhu with team ‘Custody’. (Twitter)

Meanwhile, there is an assassination attempt to kill Raju before he reaches court. Shiva makes sure that the assassination attempt is not successful.

He and George escape from the police station with Raju. But IG Natraj (Sarathkumar) is hell-bent on making sure that Raju doesn’t reach the Bangalore court.

Adding to the mayhem, Revathi escapes from her house by making her prospective groom (Vennela Kishore) a bakra.

The rest of the story deals with whether Shiva is successful or not in producing Raju before the court and what happens to him and Revathi later.

Shortcomings & best moments

Custody begins engagingly. As viewers, we instantly connect with Shiva’s honesty and want him to succeed in whatever he does.

Making of the bilingual film Custody

A poster of the bilingual film ‘Custody’. (Twitter)

But things go haywire with the addition of the love story and also an irritating comedy track featuring Vennala Kishore.

The songs also come as major speed breakers, which is surprising, given that it is the first time that the father-son duo of Ilaiyaraaja and Yuvun Shankar Raja have worked together.

It is a step down from Ilaiyaraaja after a soulful soundtrack in Krishna Vamsi’s Rangamarthanda (2023).

Nevertheless, the plot becomes more engaging with the entry of Aravind Swami. The action set piece in the police station is wonderfully staged. Here, it has to be mentioned that, the background score is much better than the songs.

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The cat-and-mouse chase involving Natraj, Raju and Shiva gives the film some of its best moments.

Another action stretch that deserves a mention is the pre-interval block involving an underwater sequence.

We see an unlikely bond developing between Shiva and Raju through the journey. This has been well-etched by Venkat Prabhu.

Impressive show by actors

Aravind Swami does a wonderful job in making sure that Raju, despite being a goonda, comes across as endearing. He also brings in some dry humour that raises many chuckles.

custody venkat prabhu film

A poster of Venkat Prabhu’s bilingual film ‘Custody’. (Twitter)

Much like in Sekhar Kammula’s Love Story (2021), here too, Naga Chaitanya plays an underdog and delivers a wonderful performance.

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He does justice to the arc of the character which goes from a happy-go-lucky guy in the flashback to a determined young man in the present.

Krithi Shetty alternates between a typically chirpy heroine and a serious woman. She does it quite well in spite of the romantic track coming across as a hurdle.

Sarathkumar as Natraj makes for a formidable opposition.

Final take

Watch Custody for the performances of Naga Chaitanya and Aravind Swami along with some thrills.

(Views expressed are personal.)