Just when you thought it was safe to stalk the night, The Infernal Brains Podcast has returned to give you a healthy dose of world cinema knowledge in women dressed as a cat form! Yes, we’re tackling the braintastic Pakistani flick Da Khwar Lasme Spogmay aka Cat-Beast aka essential cinema! Pakistani cinema is a world unto itself, and it’s time for this world to get explored. But that’s not all, there is a brief overview of the different types of Pakistani cinema and discussion of other films from the country, both similar and less than similar. It’s definitely the greatest podcast about a Pakistani film that features a woman who turns into a cat monster to slay Mad Max rejects for revenge directed by a woman that you will listen to this week, so you best not delay!
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Funky Bollywood: The Wild World of 1970s Indian Action Cinema
Prior Infernal Brains:
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 1
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 2
Polly Shang Kuan
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 1
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 2
Infernal Brains Podcast – 07 – Insee Daeng
Infernal Brains Podcast – 08 – Worst Podcast Ever
The Mummies of Guanajuato – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 09
Jane Bond – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 10
Daigoro vs Goliath – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 11
Down the Rabbit Hole with Pearl Cheung Ling – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 12
Through the Looking Glass with Pearl Cheung Ling – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 13
Starman – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 14
The Brainiac – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 15
The Secret of Magic Island – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 16
Space Ladies from Outer Space – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 17
aka Shaani aka Shani
Written by Agha Nazir Kawish
Directed by Saeed Rizvi
Pakistan goes science fiction for this take on 1984’s Starman movie, Shanee! Of course, it has to get Pakistani cinemaed up first, which means it is full of lots and lots of violence! Shani, Shaani, Shanee, however you want to spell it, is billed as Pakistan’s first science fiction film (and actually is, as far as I can tell) The entire film was a result of Saeed Rizvi, who directed, photographed, and did many of the visual effects. Rizvi started doing effects when he was directing commercials, This was the first of three effects heavy films Saeed Rizvi completed, followed by Beheaded Man/Sarkata Insaan and Mysterious Island/Talismi Jazeera (a Russian coproduction).
Shanee is the first big budget science fiction effects film for Pakistan, and was designed to rival the bit 1980s US effects films like ET, Close Encounters, and Star Wars. It doesn’t quite live up to the hype. There are practical models, glowy aliens, video toaster effects, cartoon lasers and beams and glowy eyes, animated bats, animated crocodiles, a guy with a retractable knife arm, and fakey skeletons. Plus real owls and cobras, and lots and lots of explosions. Even the credits are designed to look like the ones from Superman
Whenever anything interesting is happening, the Shanee theme will blare, the refrain becoming annoying very quickly and unintentionally ridiculous soon after. Now the damn song is stuck in my head and has a good chance of being my last words when slipping from the mortal coil. Damn you, Shanee… There is a limited amount of songs in Shani, but not the no songs that the director claims in interviews. Shanee won a couple of Nigar awards (the Pakistani equivalent to the Oscars) including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor for Asif Khan.
Shanee is an Urdu language film Thus we’re forced to dive in without subtitles. But this is TarsTarkas.NET, and we don’t need no stinking subtitles! Luckily, the film is easy to follow without subtitles, and the few points that were confusing were easily cleared up by the review at the sadly now defunct TheHotSpotOnline.com, accessed through Archive.org. Also because it is Urdu, there isn’t a straight translation of the title, so for opening credits sake we’re calling the film Shanee, but the main character Shani, to avoid confusion by only being a little confusing. Got it? Good! Now let’s get Shaneed!
Da Khwar Lasme Spogmay
You know, there are probably many different Pakistani films I could review that explore the rich and complex social history of the culture and the various ethnic groups that make up the nation. But they all pale in comparison because none of the other films have a cat lady killing dudes!
The history of the various ethnic groups in Pakistan both pre- and post-Partition is a complicated matter that fill scholarly books. We cannot begin to go over everything in the detail it deserves in an introduction to a movie review about a cat lady who goes all Freddy Krueger on rapists. But we’ll do our best to give you a crash course.
When India was granted independence in 1947, it was split into India and Pakistan, Pakistan being set up as an Islamic country separate from the Hindu-dominated India. At the time, Pakistan was mainly populated by ethnic groups known as the Sindhi, Pashtun (aka Pukhtoon aka Pathan), Baloch, Punjabi, and Bangladeshi. Two other groups of note (more displaced people than ethnic groups) are the Moharjirs, who were Muslim Indians who fled India during the Partition, and the Biharis, Indian Muslims who moved to East Pakistan during Partition. As there was no “historic” Pakistan, the country is more or less an attempt to get several different ethnic groups with different languages to work together and form a stable government. That has been less than successful, with multiple government takeovers by the military and the 1971 civil war in East Pakistan that lead to the creation of the independent country of Bangladesh. Bangladesh has its own fine cinema tradition that we will get to someday soon, but for now let’s stay in Pakistan and
The Pashtun people are located in Western Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan. They are generally considered very conservative, and are where the Taliban came from. Pashto-language cinema was created for the Pashtun people, the industry largely based in the city of Peshawar in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Peshawar industry became known as Pollywood. The first Pashto film, Laila Majnoon, was made in 1939 but not released until 1942. Pashto cinema had to wait until 1960 to produce a second film, and a third trickled in during 1963. Eventually the trickle became a mighty river of films. Producers based in Lahore (aka Lollywood) have also created Pashto-language films since the 1970s, but in recent years production has slowed considerably.
Pashto cinema went through what you could call a golden age until the 1980s when TVs and VCRs became commonplace in many homes. Theaters dried up almost overnight, and the quality of cinema decline along with the tastes of the audience still heading to the theaters. Even overseas, the audience of Pashto-speakers instead turned to other forms of media. Now with the Pashto audience increasingly being the poor and a large influx Afghan refugees, and the fact the audience became almost exclusively male, the cheaply made films began to focus more on sleaze and violence. The amount of films made decreased significantly, the mighty river again returning to a slow trickle. The Pashto industry became known as a depository for awful films, some of the productions becoming infamous in their weirdness (this being one such film!) Noted India and Pakistan film expert Omar Ali Khan (also proprietor of the excellent Hot Spot Ice Cream shop and HotSpotOnline) has even mentioned that some cinemas would start out playing the normal sleazy awful film, then switch reels to European porn, and then return to the actual film for the final reel. Pashto cinema became known for women wearing skimpy costumes gyrating around with repeated zooms or closeups of the crotch region. It is just a weird thing to see. And these films passed the censor boards in the area, making the whole thing even more bizarre. Pashto men are manly men with big mustaches and everyone is shouting all the time. It’s like Turkish film to the power of 100.
Although there are efforts to try to make a resurgence in quality of Pashto cinema in recent years, it is not going to be an easy process especially with the ongoing political problems in Pakistan.
This being a female-helmed film, the many musical interludes involving dancing women of robust sizes are not as sleazed up as much of the Pashto cinema, so there is only a small amount of gyrating and zooming into crotches. Almost so little that you can take your whole family to see the film! Keep in mind the women of Pashto film are a little more….curvy…than you are probably used to. The VCD has moving graphics for the Musafa video company, you can even call them if you so desire! Tell them you love Cat-Beast, because I am sure they’d love to hear from you. Besides the cast below, Kamran, Liaqat, and Umar Daraz are listed as cast members but I have no idea who is who.