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Jakarta Post

Iko Uwais juggles films and fatherhood

  • Andreas D. Arditya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, April 5, 2014   /  12:08 pm
Iko Uwais juggles films and fatherhood (JP/Nurhayati) (JP/Nurhayati)


The past year has been very busy for martial artist and actor Iko Uwais, which is why he has had to cleverly maneuver his time between working on films and attending to his duties as a new father.

Iko, who is known for his silat (Indonesian traditional martial arts) flair, had been married to singer Audy Item for only six months when he began shooting his latest film The Raid 2: Berandal in January 2013.

Berandal, the brainchild of Welsh director and writer Gareth Evans, is the much-awaited sequel to the phenomenal martial arts movie The Raid: Redemption, which was released in 2011.

The massive production scale of Berandal demanded the film'€™s cast and crew to shoot for seven months, one of the longest shooting periods for an Indonesian movie.

During the shooting period, the couple found out that Audy was pregnant with their first child.

'€œIt was a demanding project to work on while she was pregnant. Audy has also been worried about the type of work that I have to do. Her being pregnant triples the anxiety,'€ said the 31-year-old actor.

On the morning of October 11, 2013, Audy gave birth to their daughter, Atreya Syahla Putri Uwais. As Berandal was entering post-production, Iko was able to be by Audy'€™s side during labor.

But when Berandal premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, Iko was once again far from his wife and daughter.

'€œAudy protested. '€˜You left me when I was pregnant and now you'€™re leaving me again after she'€™s born'€™; but we know the risk of our jobs,'€ Iko said with a smile as he mimicked his wife.

'€œNow, every time something new comes up, I have a hard time telling her. She gives me this [disapproving] look, but the job is what it is,'€ he said with a little laugh.

Berandal has been screened at a number of festivals in the US over the past few months, which Iko and Evans had to attend.

'€œIt is really hard to leave a baby daughter for a long time. The last time I had to go to the US, I left her for 12 days. It was enough time for me to miss a lot of things. She develops so quickly, learning new skills every day,'€ said the actor whose real name is Uwais Qorny.

When Iko is away, however, Audy send photos and videos.  '€œWhen I arrived back home earlier this week, I found out that my daughter has learned to hum songs as she falls asleep and has new sleep positions,'€ he said.

Atreya seems to be taking genetic cues from her singer mother with her humming, but Iko proudly says that she hums while kicking her feet in the air.

'€œThere'€™s some from Audy, there'€™s some from me, I guess,'€ Iko said with his face lighting up.

Iko, however, has no specific plans to pass the silat legacy to his daughter.  

'€œShe already has silat running through her blood. I guess I won'€™t be the one to teach her silat; she has her grandparents. She can do silat while singing in the future,'€ he said with a big laugh.

Iko comes from a line of Betawi (native Jakartan) silat artists. Iko'€™s grandfather, H. Achmad Bunawar, was a reputable silat master and founder of the Silat Tiga Berantai school in Jakarta.

When he was just 10 years old, the youngest of three siblings started learning silat Betawi under his grandfather. Iko, who decided not to go to college, became more passionate about silat with the support of his father Mustapha Kamaluddin and mother Maisyaroh.

In 2003, Iko, then 20, won third place at the Jakarta Provincial Tournament. In 2005, he won first place at the National Pencak Silat Championship and was named Best Performer in the demonstration category.

His silat prowess caught Evans'€™ attention during production of the documentary Land of the Moving Shadows, which captures silat around Sumatra and Java, in 2007. Iko later made his film debut after Evans recruited him to star in the director'€™s second feature film, Merantau, in 2009.

For Merantau, Iko had to learn the traditional Minang Harimau silat-style from silat master Edwel Datuk Raja Gampo Alam.

Iko'€™s resume now includes The Raid (2012) and Man of Tai Chi (2013), in which he worked with Keanu Reeves, all featuring him as a martial arts action movie actor and fight choreographer.

'€œFor the time being, this is what I love to do. I would be happy to do drama or romance, but no one has offered me such a role. I'€™d like to continue what I do best,'€ Iko said.

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