Salman Aristo is a skillful screenwriter who learned screenwriting from scratch. His career as a screenwriter began after he met film director Hanung Bramantyo, who employed him to write the 2005 drama, Brownies. Since then, Salman has penned and cowritten numerous films, including Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Warriors), Ayat-ayat Cinta (Verses of Love) and Sang Penari (The Dancer).
After writing and directing two omnibus films — Jakarta Maghrib (Dusk in Jakarta, 2010) and Jakarta Hati (Hearts of Jakarta), the former journalist for Trax magazine now heads a new production house, KG Studio. He shares his thoughts on a few great authors that continue to inspire him.
Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Pramoedya is absolutely at the top of my list. I love all of his books. His works teach me that writing is a very serious business. His most memorable quote is “Writing is working for eternity.”
He applies it in his gigantic and ambitious novels. We can see that his goal is to write the greatest Indonesian literature. I love his classic tetralogy and I also like his other works, such as Gadis Pantai (Beach Girl) and Cerita Dari Blora (Story from Blora).
Arswendo is my role model. He writes books, screenplays and directs (soap operas and films), too. His productivity inspires me the most. He teaches me that writing is easy. What we need to do is open our eyes and become more sensitive toward our surroundings.
He reminds me that I do not have to write about big things and I do not have to look very smart. The biggest thing about him that influences me is his style of writing, which is beautiful. I have an obsession to film one of his works, Senopati Pamungkas (The Last Commander), which tells of the events after the fall of the Singosari Kingdom. I have read this story more than 10 times.
I am impressed with his breakthrough and his spirit of exploring words. A writer’s mightiest weapon is his words. I have learned to dig words from Chairil.
He wrote to H.B. Jassin, “I will dig words until their roots.” I always try to do that, exploring the meaning of everything I jot down until only the smallest entity is left, which is the word. I first found out about Chairil through his poems at school.
His phrase Hujan menebal jendela (Rain thickens the window), taken from the poem Dalam Kereta (On the Train), is very extraordinary. This short phrase can enliven my imagination. His words can visualize a romantic and longing situation.
— Indah Setiawati