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Deven, one of the main characters of In Custody, lives a meagre existence teaching Hindi Literature to a group of disinterested students, in a small town of Mirpore. Bored with his mundane life, as his real interest lies in Urdu Poetry, he is positively thrilled when one day, out of the blue, he is presented with the opportunity to meet one of Indiaï¿½s greatest Urdu poets Nur, and possibly, even interview him.
Seeing this as a chance of a lifetime, to escape from his own ordinary life, he can not wait to meet the great Nur. Acting on the advice of his friend Murad, who is the editor of a local periodical that publishes Urdu Literature, Deven begins preparing for his meeting with the poet. He procures a second hand tape recorder that he feels would be of use in transcribing Urdu poetry written by the great Nur, and also imagines approaching the poet to write his memoirs and carry out interviews. However, as things rarely go as planned, the meeting turns out to be quite different from what he had expected, in fact, as he discovers, the great poet Nur is not above vulnerabilities or weaknesses, including wives that dont get along and self-serving flatterers who seem to be taking advantage of him.
A touching account of the gradual depletion and diminishing of our culture in the face of modernisation, as well as the complex nature of human bonding and relationships, In Custody was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for fiction in 1984, and in 1993, a film In Custody, based on the book, was produced by Merchant Ivory productions and starred Shashi Kapoor in the role of Nur.
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