As 200 armed men surrounded their house on a hot August night in 2005, Nazo Dharejo and her sisters grabbed their Kalashnikov and puny stock of ammunition and climbed to the roof.
The gunfight which followed earned her the moniker "Pakistan's toughest woman", and became the subject of a film which has been entered in next year's Academy Awards, vying for glory alongside heavy-hitters such as Angelina Jolie's First They Killed My Father and Joachim Trier's Thelma.
A world away from Hollywood's red carpet, at the ancestral home Dharejo fought for in Pakistan's rural Sindh province, she described the night which could lead to Oscar glory.
"I will kill them or die here but never retreat," Dharejo, now in her late 40s, recalled saying as assailants attacked her home.
As 200 armed men surrounded their house on a hot August night in 2005, Nazo Dharejo and her sisters grabbed their Kalashnikov and puny stock of ammunition and climbed to the roof. - AFP
Her husband begged her to stand down but she refused, facing down her own relatives — who were armed and had long sought to take her family's property after her father died leaving no male heir, she said.
Her grandfather had several wives, and the male heirs in other branches of his family were laying claim to her inheritance.
But her family had defied rural Pakistani cultural norms of the time to educate their daughters and teach them they were as good as boys, and the sisters were willing to give their lives to prove it.
From their position on the roof their tiny army — the three sisters, Dharejo's husband, and some loyal friends and neighbours — held off the onslaught, with household staff making daring runs for more ammunition until daylight broke.
A five-year legal battle over the land eventually saw her foes pay half a million rupees ($4,800) in compensation and offer a public apology — an act of utmost disgrace in rural Pakistan.
Born in a conservative feudal family, Dharejo was entitled to learn the Koran at home — and that was all.
She persuaded her father to allow her and her sisters to study English, which paved the way for her to gain her Bachelor of Arts in economics at Sindh University, where she could study at home and appear in public only for the exams.
But the modern justice system has made few inroads into rural Sindh, where little has changed for centuries in a society dominated by feudalism, and the bloody years-long fight over her family's land threatened many times to derail her progress.
"It kept intensifying. Five, six murders took place and in 1992 my brother was also murdered," she explained.
When her father died that same year, the women who visited to pay condolences taunted her mother and sisters that their family line had ended.
But Dharejo's determination — particularly her defiant stand over her family's property years later — slowly turned the tide.
Soon neighbours began to speak of her as "Waderi", a new feminine version of the male honorific "Wadera" meaning something akin to a feudal "Lady".
Oscars bid for story of 'Pakistan's toughest woman' Pakistani woman Mukhtiar Naz (L), known as Waderi Nazo Dharejo, with her daughters at her agriculture field in Qazi Ahmed in Sindh province - AFP
"She has become such a huge tree spreading soothing shade to the people around her," commented Zulfiqar Dharejo as his wife, draped in a traditional printed Sindhi shawl, rocked gently on a nearby swing bed in their sparse drawing room, hung with more guns.
Heat, hospitals and gunfire
In 2013 Dharejo's story came to the attention of a British-born Pakistani filmmaker, Sarmad Masud.
Fascinated, he got in touch. The result is My Pure Land, the 98-minute Urdu-language film version of Dharejo's story starring Suhaee Abro, which became the UK's official entry in the Oscar's foreign language category.
Pakistani woman Mukhtiar Naz, known as Waderi Nazo Dharejo, checks a gun at her ancestral home in Qazi Ahmed in Sindh province. Known as "Pakistan's toughest woman", she is the subject of a film which has been entered in next year's Academy Awards. - AFP
It faces tough competition: a record 92 countries have entered this year. Other contenders include Jolie's film on the Cambodian genocide.
Nominations will be announced in January, with the ceremony held in March.
Masud told AFP: "I was immediately inspired by (Dharejo's) courage and heroism."
A poster of the film 'My Pure Land', from Dharejo's story made by Pakistani-British director Sarmad Masud. - Firstpost
But he conceded making the movie, filmed in some 30 days around Lahore, had been tough.
Temperatures touched 40 degrees during filming; both he and his wife, the production designer on the film, were briefly hospitalised; and the set was attacked.
Much to his frustration, they also never met their heroine in person, though they spoke often.
Oscars bid for story of 'Pakistan's toughest woman'Pakistani woman Mukhtiar Naz, known as Waderi Nazo Dharejo, holds a gun at her ancestral home in Qazi Ahmed in Sindh province- AFP
Despite its labelling by some critics as a "feminist Western", My Pure Land has only a few action scenes in it, Masud said.
Film director Sarmad Masud turned the story of a gun-toting woman embroiled in a land dispute into a film picked for the Oscar race. - asianculturevulture.com
Ultimately it is a drama about a father's loving relationship with his daughters, he explained.
In the film 'My Pure LNazo, Dharejo and her sisters grabbed their Kalashnikov and puny stock of ammunition and climbed to the roof. - Hellow Pakistan Magazine
"It was important to shine a light on characters and a part of the world which is very rarely accurately represented on screen," he added.
When 200 armed men surrounded their house Nazo Dharejo and her sisters grabbed their gun and fought back earning her the moniker "Pakistan's toughest woman" and becoming the subject of a film vying for Oscars glory https://t.co/sUPDaaMU5z pic.twitter.com/HeWRTuC9j9— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 25, 2017
Dharejo said she was "very happy" with the the final film, adding that the triumphant story belongs to Sindh and Pakistan".
She said: "That is an honour for me."