Titi Kamal: Looking for
diversity in her roles


Picture this film-like scene: A tall, slender, possibly otherworldly gorgeous lady walks toward the camera. Her eyes gaze sharply at the audience, her slightly wicked smile is inviting, and a light breeze softly blows her long, silky black hair. The scene is done in slow-motion.

Now, picture this scene: A tall, slender, impossibly down-to-earth lady laughs at the camera, bearing her smile-induced wrinkles as she sips her tall ice blended coffee with whipped cream and indulges in a huge portion of strawberry cheese cake.

The latter was never recorded on film -- rather, it was the scene created when this same lady watched a recording of herself play the first scene.

"Yeah, those infamous slow-motion scenes ... What's up with that?" giggled Titi Kamal.

"I thought I wouldn't get to do such scenes again after shooting Eiffel I'm in Love, and also some of my ads. But, I kept receiving these kinds of offers over and over again. In fact, I recently turned down one film offer ... because they wanted to keep putting me in slow-motion shots. That's crazy*"

Still, that did not prevent the producers of her latest film, D.O. (Drop Out), to recreate this type of scene repeatedly to comical effect.

It works though, despite Titi's initial insistence to model her character -- a nerdy and sex-deprived teacher -- on other slapstick films featuring damsels in comical trouble, such as in Korean Art of Seduction, Good Luck Chuck, Charlie's Angels and to balance off, Dangerous Minds.

"In a way, D.O. gives me a chance to shake off any images from my previous roles. Before this, I did Mendadak Dangdut (Suddenly Dangdut), where I played this arrogant singer.

"Now I get to be this geeky, sexually introverted character, and for my next project, I play a vain actress who always poses whenever a camera is around, so you'll never know what kind of roles I get to play next*"

If that sounds like an advertisement for herself, consider this quote from her official website: "I prefer small roles in good films rather than leading roles in films that, sorry, only a small audience will watch. That's why, despite my almost-being-cameo roles in Eiffel and Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (What's up With Cinta?), I'm proud to be involved in those films that everyone talks about.

"Every time I read a script, I put myself in the audience's mind, and I ask myself, 'Would I pay to see this? Would I be entertained? Would I get bored?', before I finally consider it with, 'Is it worth taking?'.

"I am still doing that, although I have to admit that I am more open minded this year. I don't want to distance myself from any possibility. Hit films do not come once, let alone twice a year, so all I have to do is keep on trying. Besides, interesting offers keep coming and they have various characters, some I can never think of*"

Despite her bankability as a leading star, which explains the abundance of offers made to her, it is interesting to note that Titi has actually rarely appeared on the big screen.

After her major debut in Ada Apa Dengan Cinta, she has only appeared in five films to date (the four local films mentioned, plus the indie film Tragedy). She appeared in TV soaps a few years back, but has not taken any TV roles since.

"I took one year off to concentrate on my restaurant, and some other plans in the pipeline. Besides, I wanted people to notice me every time I appeared. That's why, if you notice the products I endorsed, the films and TV programs I have done, I tried to give a different touch in each of them.

"Look, if you want to survive in the industry, you need to find your trademark. You may just jump into doing TV soaps on a daily basis, get a lot of money, but after the series finishes, then what? People quickly forget you, so in the end, you have to keep your presence intact."

Has she found her trademark then?

She nodded, and added, "Like I said, I change my characters every time I can. I have played a beggar, a blind person and a deaf-mute person before.

"I admit, I haven't done a total physical transformation. That's one drawback, especially with my long hair, I can't just cut it short, because I have some contractual obligations with certain hair products.

"But as I can see, there are beggars with long hair, there are blind people with long hair, so why should this be my handicap?

"You could call this my responsibility in becoming an actress, to find another side of myself every time I step into a new role."

Titi has turned down numerous offers to star in horror films, saying it is the comic calling that draws her deep.

When asked what type of film she would likely direct and produce one day, she brimmed with excitement and almost screamed.

"I want to do a Ben Stiller kind of comedy* They may look simple, silly, but his creative wackiness, wow* Look at Zoolander* So many gimmicks that made you think, 'What is that?', but that actually helps bring the characters to life.

"And believe me, watching these kinds of films makes you appreciate the artistry of comedy. I don't care if people tend to appreciate drama more, but to me, making people laugh is freaking tough*"

Her secret to staying positive?

"I take it the way Rhonda Byrne describes in her book (The Secret): let it flow, be confident. No matter how exhausted you are in doing take after take of delivering a joke, until they feel dried out. Never feel under pressure, just relax, just enjoy whatever you're doing."

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