The Last Thakur

The Last Thakur


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

People are the same wherever you go. Power corrupts and the corrupt are drawn to power. These are two of the messages in this gracefully recounted fable, set in the remote marshland of Bangladesh. It's essentially a retelling of a familiar story many viewers will know from the Django films, A Fistful Of Dollars and Akira Kurosawa's classic Yojimbo. Though it might struggle to compete with these iconic films, it has a distinctive look and feel which nevertheless makes it a valuable contribution to the genre.

Tanveer Hassan is the stranger who stumbles into town, armed with nothing but his rifle and his wits, and stumbles into the middle of a feud. The local cafe owner tells him firmly that brandishing a gun won't get him a cup of tea there, but it certainly makes an impression on others, with Muslim politician The Chairman (Rubel Ahmed) and Hindu landlord Thakur (Tariq Anam) both deciding they want him on their side. What they don't realise is that he has his own agenda, with an old grievance he is willing to pursue to its deadly conclusion.

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The stranger in these films is always a mysterious character, the iconic Man With No Name. Here he is known as 'Kala', which translates appropriately as 'art' and also (when given to a girl) has a darker association, as a variant of 'Kali'. But he's much more emotional than his previous incarnations and it's interesting to follow his journey - he doesn't seem unaffected by the deaths around him, just ruthlessly devoted to his cause. So much so, in fact, that before he is willing to shoot somebody he makes his current sponsor pay for the bullet.

Opening as it does the day after a rigged election, this film couldn't be more timely. Yet it is not uncritical in its support for the little guys either, narrated as it is by a child whose naivety makes him easy prey for the seductive wiles of the men competing for power. It is underscored by elements of Greek tragedy, as the sins of the past must ultimately be reckoned with and as, for the stranger, even the achievement of his aims cannot bring him peace.

Although this is Sadik Ahmed's first feature film as a director he has spent some time working as a cinematographer and this experience really pays off, with beautiful images of the surrounding marshland giving us a sense of what this place is worth to its inhabitants and also pointing up its isolation. This is complemented by a haunting, melodic score by Kishon Khan and Birgir Clausen which only occasionally becomes intrusive. All in all, it's a well balanced effort which maintains the proper sense of ironic distance without losing sight of its characters' humanity, even when they lose sight of that of others.

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2009
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As a Muslim politician and a Hindu landlord compete for power in an isolated Bangladeshi village, a stranger with a rifle pursues his own deadly agenda.
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Director: Sadik Ahmed

Writer: Sadik Ahmed, Heather Taylor

Starring: Tariq Anam Khan, Ahmed Rubel, Tanveer Hassan, Anisur Rahman Milon, Tanju Miah, Jayanto Chattopadhyay

Year: 2008

Runtime: 81 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, Bangladesh


London 2008

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A Fistful Of Dollars