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Jakarta Post

Rako Prijanto: A sympathetic lens

  • Niken Prathivi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, May 17, 2014   /  12:02 pm
Rako Prijanto: A sympathetic lens (


Rako Prijanto is busy preparing his 15th feature film.

The 41-year-old directed the best film of 2013, according to the Indonesian Film Festival (FFI) '€” the religious biopic Sang Kiai (The Leader).

His latest project, 3 Nafas Likas, features Atiqah Hasiholan as Likas, the wife of Djamin Gintings, the famous Batak general who fought in the Independence War.

Rako said that 3 Nafas Likas would be a period piece, just like Sang Kiai. '€œIt is another big project because there will be several eras portrayed, from the 1930s to the 2000s,'€ Rako said on the sidelines of a press conference before production on the film began in late April.

The crew will shoot on location in North Sumatra and Jakarta in Indonesia and also in Ottawa, where Djamin later served as the nation'€™s ambassador to Canada, he added.

'€œMost people associate heroic action with physical struggle. But in reality, ibu rumah tangga [housewives] such as Likas have an amazing story of struggle that is important to be told,'€ Rako said.

For Rako, making 3 Nafas Likas has not been routine.

He spoke of several heart-to-heart conversations he had with his wife, Intan, as he attempted to capture the feelings of a woman.

'€œWhile developing the screenplay, I talked a lot with my wife, as well as with some of my women friends, to really understand their point of view. For example, when a girl is 13 years old, in puberty, I need to know what happens to her, what'€™s on her mind,'€ Rako, who has two girls with Intan, said.

He continued: '€œOr when a woman becomes a wife, I needed to understand what her sacrifices are '€” letting go of her personal dreams and putting herself as No. 2, while she has to help develop her husband'€™s career.'€

The director said that he went the extra mile because he wanted every aspect of the film to be relevant to families, the film'€™s target audience.

Rako said that he learned a lot about relationships as he developed the film'€™s script, especially in understanding his wife. '€œMost men care only about their ego. But, thanks to Likas'€™ character, I started to learn something: another meaning of love.'€

'€œWhat will also be challenging is maintaining each character'€™s consistency, because the story will cover several eras. Actually, 3 Nafas Likas has a simple storyline '€” it'€™s my role to turn it into an interesting piece,'€ he added.

Graduating from the STEKPI banking and finance polytechnic in 1995, Rako said that he never planned to be a film director.

He worked in a bank for a few months after graduation before realizing that it wasn'€™t his calling.

He then established a small photography company with his friends.

'€œI became a photographer for wedding events, products as well as fashion for a couple of years before I met Rudy Soedjarwo,'€ said Rako, referring to the director of one of the Reform era'€™s most popular films, Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (What'€™s Up with Cinta?).

The film made stars of its lead actors, Dian Sastrowardoyo and Nicholas Saputra, then relative unknowns.

Rako, who assisted Rudy during the production of Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?, said that he wrote a love poem used in the film that became popular among teenagers who grew up watching the movie.

Since then, Rako, a big fan of Ang Lee of the US and Riri Riza of Indonesia, has worked on several productions with Rudy, Riri and Riri'€™s producing partner Mira Lesmana.

After learning about movie making for several years from great directors, Rako directed his first film, Ungu Violet (Purple Violet), in 2005.

Sang Kiai, which told the story of Muslim leader K.H. Hasyim Ashari, collected three Citra awards at the FFI '€” for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Adipati Dolken) and Best Sound Editing (Khikmawan Santosa, M. Iksan and Yusuf A Pattawari).

Despite the achievement, Rako said that he has not reached his ultimate goal.

'€œI'€™m dreaming of making a tetralogy movie about Gayatri, the daughter of Kertanegara,'€ Rako said, referring to the ruler of the Singosari kingdom of Java in the 13th century. '€œThere was an investor who was interested in supporting the project, but it was canceled for some reason. But, I'€™m keeping my hopes alive.'€

He said that stories like Gayatri carried true Indonesian values, which are important for building cultural nationalism for the young generation.

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