In Custody

1993/India, 126 minutes

Ismail Merchant's feature directorial debut addresses a subject close to his heart: the expressive Urdu language of Northern India, in danger of extinction as political trends and modernization obscure its contributions to Indian culture. Merchant 's treatment is wry and good humored , as his characters - an aging Urdu poet (Shashi Kapoor) and a worshipful young college lecturer - clash despite their shared passion for the beauty of words. Anita Desai adapted her novel with Shahrukh Husain, incorporating poems by Urdu author Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The movie won the President of India Gold Medal for Best Picture in 1994.