press enter to search

’27 Steps of May’: When silence speaks louder than words

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, May 1, 2019  /  03:19 pm

Gang-raped when she was 14, May remains traumatized and haunted by the incident even after eight years have gone by. Refusing to talk or leave her house, May does the same things every single day: either decorates dolls or irons her clothes. 

Her father also suffers as he feels guilty for his failure to protect May. Unable to communicate his feelings toward her, he unleashes his anger through boxing and street-fighting.

The above is a synopsis of 27 Steps of May, a film penned by Rayya Makarim and directed by Ravi Bharwani. Among its actors were Raihaanun as May, Lukman Sardi as May’s father, Verdi Solaiman as a courier and Ario Bayu as a magician.

Read also: ‘27 Steps of May’: A breathtaking exploration of trauma

Siti Hafar Raihaanun Nabilla poses during an interview with The Jakarta Post on April 28. The actress said her role as May was the most extreme challenge she has ever received.Siti Hafar Raihaanun Nabilla poses during an interview with The Jakarta Post on April 28. The actress said her role as May was the most extreme challenge she has ever received. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

Years prior to 27 Steps of May, Ravi had teamed up with Rayya in Jermal (Fishing Platform), which premiered at the 2008 Busan International Film Festival.

“I have collaborated with Rayya long before Jermal as I made short stories and she contributed some suggestions. She’s very critical and straightforward,” Ravi said during a recent interview with The Jakarta Post.

When working on the script for 27 Steps of May, both ended up spending days discussing each scene. “Sometimes we argued, but it was for the film, which is positive for me. Hence, we were able to create a fully developed script that had passed plenty of arguments,” Ravi said.

Actor Verdi Solaiman (above left), director Ravi Bharwani (above right), actor Lukman Sardi (bottom left) and actor Raihaanun during interviews with The Jakarta Post on April 28.Actor Verdi Solaiman (above left), director Ravi Bharwani (above right), actor Lukman Sardi (bottom left) and actor Raihaanun during interviews with The Jakarta Post on April 28. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

Acting as May, Raihaanun shared her preparations for the role. “I discussed first with Ravi and Rayya what they wanted May to be like and I let them know my interpretation,” said Raihaanun, adding that she was told by Ravi to watch the 2006 movie Fur to help her capture such feelings. “Starting from there, I tried to slowly understand and get into the character.”

Raihaanun admitted that May was the most extreme and challenging role she had ever received, especially since the character mostly relies on gestures. “If I slightly missed it, the output would be different. The details given by Ravi helped me a lot. He’s very thorough,” she said.

27 Steps of May was her first collaboration with Lukman, who played her father. The two often shared scenes together in this film.

“I’m lucky because she was very open when I was interacting with her," Lukman said.

Actor Lukman Sardi during a photo session at The Jakarta Post on  April 18. Lukman had to learn about boxing and street fighting before shooting began.Actor Lukman Sardi during a photo session at The Jakarta Post on April 18. Lukman had to learn about boxing and street fighting before shooting began. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

Similar to Raihaanun, Lukman prepared for his role by having discussions and readings with Ravi alongside other actors.

“Acting with less dialogue is far more difficult, especially since my character tends to be silent as May doesn’t communicate with her father,” said Lukman.

The father of three sons also tried to learn about boxing and street-fighting prior to filming. “We began to shoot [street fighting scenes] at 5 p.m. – I had to be on standby from 4 p.m. – and ended in the morning. It took a week and I had to take my clothes off,” said Lukman. “When the long process of shooting was done and I could watch the film – it was like a multiple orgasm.”

Read also: ’27 Steps of May’ screened at 2019 Göteborg Film Festival

Actor Verdi Solaiman poses during a photo session at The Jakarta Post on April 18. Playing a courier in '27 Steps of May', Verdi aimed for his character to have flaws. Actor Verdi Solaiman poses during a photo session at The Jakarta Post on April 18. Playing a courier in '27 Steps of May', Verdi aimed for his character to have flaws. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

Verdi Solaiman’s courier is often perceived as one of the positive characters in the film and he said he discovered plenty of information about the role from the script.

“I didn’t want this character to be very saintly or too condescending. I tried to give him flaws,” said Verdi. "But he has a clear goal from the beginning until the end and he’s also developing as he’s in conflict with May’s father or with reality. So it’s like idealism clashes with reality. It’s fun."

Ravi, Raihaanun, Lukman and Verdi also complimented the crew members for being supportive throughout the filming. Verdi gave an example of when he and Lukman filmed a scene in which they saw May’s dolls had been damaged.

“I asked the art department to give me the doll thatvisually drained your energy. When Lukman held the doll and we stared at it, suddenly other crew members went silent. Then we just needed to get into the ambiance,” said Verdi. “As an actor, I was flattered by it. Such [a thing] rarely happens on a set.” (kes)

Your premium period will expire in 0 day(s)

close x
Subscribe to get unlimited access Get 50% off now