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Sure as Shootin'

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Ucha Pind (2021)

Though parts of it are culturally specific, “Ucha Pind” easily trumps Hong Kong movies in the number of times ruthless characters double-, triple-, quadruple-cross one another. It sets up the titular village as a lawless gangland under tyrannical rule, but a few dauntless and reckless outsiders, who may or may not be working with one another, are willing to challenge boundaries. The violence is also gratuitous and graphic, traits seemingly more characteristic of H.K., South Korean or even Hollywood films.

The opening scene sets up Azaad (Navdeep Kaler) and his uncle, Najjar (Sardar Sohi of “Tunka Tunka”), as goofballs who can't hold their liquor. So it’s a bit of a surprise that the next morning, when a group of gangsters stick shotgun barrels in their faces, these small-time bandits come out with guns blazing. They are promptly paid off by Mukha (Mani Kular), and still they purloin the motorcycle he rides in on. Azaad is in a relationship with blue-eyed beauty Nimmo (Poonam Sood), a popular show girl whom the film introduces in an obligatory musical number complete with endless L’Oreal hair-flowing glam shots. While torturing a poor farmer, Zaildar Rana (Mukul Dev) learns of the demise of some of his henchmen from a previous scene. Meanwhile, the newly arrived police inspector Gurbaaz (Rahul Jungral) seeks to instill some law and order despite colleague Maghar’s (Dilawar Sidhu) warnings.

Director Harjit Ricky and screenwriter Narinder Ambarsariya truly keep the viewers on the edges of their seats, sometimes unexpectedly offing integral characters with little warning as effortlessly as having arch enemies inexplicably join forces instead of killing each other. But they do not sustain this irreverence and energy for the duration. In the third act, with the unrepentant Azaad turning vengeful after a couple of significant losses, the film takes an extended flashback to the back story that has set the present-day events in motion. It’s really a shame, because it has been quite something up until this point.


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