Monday, May 20, 2024

‘Chay’s character is the driving force in Custody’

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Naga Chaitanya-starrer Custody is all set to hit the theatres on May 12. Ahead of the film’s release, director Venkat Prabhu discusses some interesting insights about the film.

Amartya Smaran
Custody, a Venkat Prabhu hunt starring Naga Chaitanya, Krithi Shetty, Priyamani, Arvind Swamy, and R. Sarathkumar in important roles, is all set to take the audience into custody on May 12. The film has music by maestro Ilaiyaraaja and little maestro Yuvan Shankar Raja. A collaboration that reeks of supreme virtuosity. We must say that Venkat Prabhu is one lucky creator to have collaborated with two legends on the same film. S.R. Kathir handled the cinematography.

Director Venkat Prabhu is known for altering the image of established heroes. Not only does he alter the image of these stars, but he also manages to succeed every single time. He showcased superstar Ajith Kumar in a grey character in Mankatha, and recently, with Maanaadu, Venkat Prabhu explored the actor in T. Silambarasan, aka STR/Simbu. This time, the Goa director placed all his bets on ‘Yuva Samrat’ Naga Chaitanya. With all the hype, it seems plausible that Custody would certainly revamp the star’s image.

When the Maanaadu director watched a Malayalam film called Nayattu, he was deeply inspired by it. He wanted to work on a similar genre film, and that’s how Custody was born. Venkat Prabhu felt he could explore the commercial angle. Custody is a bilingual film, and Prabhu made sure he hit the right balance with respect to the commercial sensibilities that the film has to offer to the Tamil and Telugu audiences. They have their sensibilities, but the Telugu audience seeks something larger than life.

The story is about a guy called Shiva, who hails from a small village and works in a nearby police station as a constable. He’s got a family and a love interest. The movie starts with Shiva’s personal problems, and then he finds himself in a bigger problem. He doesn’t know how to solve it, but he has to. How Shiva becomes a hero is the storyline, according to Venkat Prabhu.

Apparently, Naga Chaitanya and Venkat Prabhu always wanted to work on a project. The director approached the actor’s father for Mankatha, but it didn’t work out for various reasons. The collaboration might not have worked, but Chay and Prabhu stayed in touch. They’d often discuss films and contemplate the possibility of making a picture together.
Many years later, a song from Naga Chaitanya’s biggest hits—Love Story—caught the filmmakers’ attention. He supposedly wondered, “He’d be the right fit for the role of Shiva.” The director couldn’t contain his excitement and landed in Hyderabad right before the release of Maanaadu. The Love Story actor was shooting for fan favourite Bangarraju back then. All it needed was a rough 30-minute narration for Chay to say yes.

The entire film takes place over a four-day stretch. Writing a screenplay for films that are set within a specific timeline is really difficult. One has to really apply some intense brain power to craft a viable screenplay.

“I wrote two different screenplays,” began the Biriyani director. “I’d completed one screenplay and later rejected it because we’ve already seen such movies. It’s like two different stories start at the same time, and at one point of time the characters collide. Then I thought that only when Chay knows something, the audience should also know. Chay’s character is the driving force, and all the characters will be introduced to the audience through Chay.

I thought that’d be new to both the Telugu and Tamil diaspora.”
The director told us that the screenplay of the film is going to be extremely gripping and fast-paced. So gripping that one of the member members of the indomitable Censor Board personally praised Venkat Prabhu. “I asked the censor board as to how they liked the film, and one person was kind enough to say, ‘It was very, very gripping!’ When the censor board watches a movie, even when it’s a comedy film, they won’t laugh (haha). However, they looked happy when I went inside with my producer.”

The action starts 20 minutes before the interval, and the momentum continues right through the end. One of the reasons he cast the Bangarraju actor was because he wanted someone with no solid image. And the 100% Love actor perfectly fit the bill. In the movie, he’ll be seen coming face-to-face with the mighty Arvind Swamy and R. Sarath Kumar. Two giants! Venkat Prabhu says Chay is very small between them, and this dynamic is going to make the audience root for the lead.

“I wanted to show a different Chay in this film,” reiterated the director and gave in one of the biggest secrets of the film, or perhaps not, “I was really happy with the way he prepared for the role. I shouldn’t reveal, but there’s one big highlight in the film. I thought I should reveal it in the pre-release, but Chay took a promise from me. He said, ‘Sir! Please keep this to yourself. Let the audience be surprised.’ Whatever he did in that scene, you guys will be happy, surprised, and excited looking at what Chay did. No! It’s not the climax scene (haha).”

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