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.