Custody – by Manju Kapur

In ‘Custody’ Manju Kapur has tried to explore the finer nuances of a divorce – both pre and post. Not only are we taken through the journey of what leads up to one, but also the repercussions of this as well. The story takes us through the life of Raman, who works for ‘The Brand’, a leading soft drinks manufacturing company. He has this respectable job, gets paid handsomely, and leads a decently content life with his gorgeous wife Shagun, his smart teenager son Arjun and his adorable three year old daughter, Roohi. Parallelly, there is Ishita, who although not strikingly beautiful, is wise, kind and generous. Ishita gets married and leads a happy life, adapting to her new family, being everybody’s favourite.

Each character has a mind set, unique in its own way, reflecting the modern virtues that we have been adapting. The author manages to create a sublime atmosphere that reveals the various tragedies that a family can go through. The future of the children are at stake. There is screaming, yelling, and all the possible melodrama.

Manju Kapur delves deeper to give us an insight in to the mindsets of the children. How a teenager boy misses his father while he applies for admission in a new school, a school where his new step-father has been a legend. How a shy and clingy girl of three is coerced into believing that her birth mother loves her no more. How a brother is turned against his sister. Her description of the upper and middle class lives in Delhi in the 90s is spot on, and you can imagine it going on right in front of your eyes – the nosy neighbors, the jealousy between families, the swish set planning holidays abroad, and of course ‘the Brand’, where Raman and Ashok work. But all said and done, ‘Custody’ is not a patch on Kapur’s earlier work – ‘Difficult Daughers’ and ‘Home’.

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