Billing itself as the first "Bangla Western," "The Last Thakur" is an admirably ambitious first feature by British-Bangladeshi helmer-d.p Sadik Ahmed that's more of an extended mood-piece than a full-fledged oater.

Billing itself as the first “Bangla Western,” “The Last Thakur” is an admirably ambitious first feature by British-Bangladeshi helmer-d.p Sadik Ahmed that’s more of an extended mood-piece than a full-fledged oater. Still, this good-looking HD low-budgeter reps an impressive calling card for Ahmed, a grad of Blighty’s National Film & TV School whose short docu “Tanju Miah” played Sundance and Toronto in 2007. Positive reviews should yield modest returns in specialized situations.

It’s Independence Day in Doulathpur, a riverside shanty town in rural Bangladesh (Byron Broadbent did the flavorsome production design), whither arrives a mysterious, rifle-carrying stranger, Kala (Tanveer Hassan), looking for payback over an injustice against his mom. Power in the town is split between a corrupt Muslim, the Chairman (Ahmed Rubel), who just rigged the local election, and a manic Hindu landlord, Thakur (Tariq Anam Khan), who’s ruthlessly bought up indebted land to build a temple commemorating his family.

In the course of 12 hours — dawn to dusk — the penniless but focused Kala plays off both sides prior to a final outbreak of violence.

With an offbeat voiceover by a young teaboy (Tanju Miah, from Ahmed’s docu), compressed depth-of-field in the zoomed-in widescreen images and perilously little plot, pic maintains a gently simmering atmosphere but starts to feel stretched after the first few reels. Finale isn’t as confidently handled as the buildup.

Gentle, fretted score adds plenty of ambience but not much tension to sustain the drama.

The Last Thakur

U.K.

Production

A Curzon Artificial Eye release of an Artificial Eye, National Film & Television School presentation, in association with Film4 Films, Aimimage Prods., BreakThru Films, Screaming Girl Prod. (International sales: Artificial Eye, London.) Produced by Atif Ghani, Tamsin Lyons. Executive producers, Philip Knatchbull, Nik Powell, Daniel Chamier. Directed by Sadik Ahmed. Screenplay, Heather Taylor, Ahmed; story, Ahmed.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Ahmed; editor, Hugh Williams; music, Kishon Khan, Birger Clausen; production designer, Byron Broadbent; costume designer, Anwar Hossain Chowdhury; sound (Dolby Digital), Ayush Ahuja; sound designer, Kieron Teather; associate producers, Ahmed Ahmadzadeh, Nazim Farhan Choudhury, Hugh Welchman. Reviewed at London Film Festival (New British Cinema), Oct. 28, 2008. Running time: 79 MIN.

With

Tariq Anam Khan, Ahmed Rubel, Tanveer Hassan, Tanju Miah, Anisur Rahman Milon, Jayanto Chattopadyahay. (Bangla dialogue)
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more