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!