Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eka Kurniawan

Today theSun published article where I have interviewed a famous fiction writer  Eka Kurniawan who is from Indonesia. I would say a big thank you to Wan Nor Azriq and Ainul Muaiyanah for arranging this interview. Below is the full article.  

Suggested Headline : Rattling Minds 
By Bissme S 

Eka Kurniawan  is acknowledged as one of the most exciting fiction writers in Indonesia. His debut novel, Cinta Itu Luka, published in 2002, received critical reviews and won him fans throughout. 
Since then, the 39-year-old has written three novels and three collections of short stories. Born in Tasikmalaya in West Java, in 1975, Eka was in Malaysia recently for a book event and to promote his new book, Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas. He sat down with theSun to share his thoughts on his work and motivation, the literary scene in Indonesia and his new book.

*You have been compared to (the late) Pramoedya Ananta Toer, one of Indonesia’s finest writers. Some believe you are the most exciting writer that Indonesia has produced since. Any comment?

I believe the comparison is not fair. Pramoedya and I came from two different generations and two different eras. So, we tend to look at Indonesia very differently. When two people look at
something differently, naturally the stories we tell will be different.
I really believe you cannot make a comparison between the two.
Each writer has his own style and his own perspective. Pram is one of the finest writers in my country. But he should not be made into a God.

*Some readers love your latest novel Seperti Dendam ... but others were not comfortable with the vulgar language.

My characters in the novel arefrom the lower class and I was capturing the language these characters tend to use when it comes to sex.I also looked at some of the graffiti writings on sex that you normally find behind the trucks(In Indonesia, graffiti is often found on trucks). I have used some of these graffiti writings as an inspiration.Personally, I take these comments as compliments. It is like some people who do not like seafood but when a chef cooks up  a good seafood dish, they enjoy the flavours. They forget the dish they are eating is seafood.

*Your novels deal with sexual themes. Some may feel good literature should discuss the mind rather than desires of the body. What is your comment?

I don’t agree. We should be discussing anything that is relevant to human life – mind and body, happiness and sadness, virtue and sin.Our society and our history are always dealing with the pain and joy of our bodies and our minds as well.

*What motivates you as a writer?

I started writing at the age of 11. I was not a clever student nor was I keen on sports. I wanted to win the attention of my classmates, especially the opposite sex.So I started writing poetry. But over the years, I became serious about making writing my profession.

*What is the misconception that people have about you?

After reading my work, some people have this impression that I
am a serious old man. But when they meet me, they are surprised
that I am nothing like that (he looks boyish and jovial and loves
to laugh).To me, an ideal literature is telling a serious story with a touch of humour. I know people who read my work and have a good laugh. But in the end, they regard my work as serious literature.

*Do you think every story should have a message?

Consciously or unconsciously,writers [leave] messages in [their]stories. [But] readers may not see things the same way the writer wants them to see. The writer simply has no control over how readers interpret his stories.
I really believe a story should not become a sermon. Once a story becomes a sermon, the story is no longer interesting. I write
mainly to disturb the mind of my readers (laughs).

*Why do you want to rattle the mind of your readers?

Literature is one of the ways to discuss our existence in this life, to
share our ideas and to react to other people’s ideas. What is the
best way to get people into a discussion? Perhaps by disturbing
their mind ... am I right?

*How do you take criticism?

A well-known critic of a newspaper gave my first novel(Cinta Itu Luka) a bad review. He said that my novel had no direction – it was not realistic nor was it surrealistic. I did not mind his review. But my friends and my fans were not happy.
They felt the critic was unfair and that he did not appreciate a
young writer’s view of the world. They critiqued him for giving me a bad review. The reviewer jokingly told me that my friends and my fans were very garang (fierce)!

His latest book 

His first book

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

U-Wei Interview ( 2004)

From my old file, I  managed to find this old article dated September 2, 2004  where I did an interview with U-Wei Hj Saari. He has just directed his fifth movie Buai Laju Laju. With this director, you can always expect an interesting answer.  Here is a full story.  

Sept 2, 2004 
Suggested Headline: Swinging With U - Wei   
Bissme S. explores director U-Wei Hj Saari's fascination with sex in his latest film Buai Laju Laju

Betrayed by a woman. That's the theme of U-Wei Haji Saari's first movie Perempuan, Isteri Dan ...? made 10 years ago. It became a controversial box-office hit and bagged five awards at the 11th Malaysian Film Festival, including best film and best director for U-Wei. He treads the same path for his latest movie, his fifth, Buai Laju Laju, which opens on Sept 9.
The story centres on Amran (Eman Manan), a drifter who arrives at the home of Ibrahim (Khalid Salleh), a rich older man married to a younger, beautiful woman called Zaiton (Betty Banafe). The couple live next to a restaurant where Zaiton runs. A hungry Amran agrees to do some manual jobs at the restaurant in return for food. It's here that Zaiton seduces Amran and convinces him to kill her husband. They come up with what seems like the perfect plan, until something goes wrong ...Interviewing U-Wei is like interviewing a poet. His answers are never straight-forward or standard.

*Why haven't you made a movie for five years?

I was tired. I was not inspired. Most of all, I couldn't find a good producer who I could work with. Besides, my wife keeps telling me a good director is a working director. Now I have found a good producer in Julia Fraser and Julie le Brocquy.

* What is the biggest challenge you faced in directing Buai?

Conjuring lust without sex, depicting seduction without too much skin and staging a murder without gore. The result is fulfilment through self restraint.

* Did Buai face any problem with the censorship board?

Not at all. They have not asked me to cut anything. This time around, they have been kind to me.

* Some feel Buai has a lot of similarity with your first film, Perempuan, Isteri Dan..?

I believe every filmmaker makes only one film and all their other films are just a variation of that. Perempuan, Isteri Dan... ? is like my old flame. Both movies are the same but a little different.

*Buai makes it seem as though women are smarter than men...

That has always been a fact. "Tak hebat lelaki Melayu kalau tak kalah kepada perempuan" (You are not a man till you lose to a woman).

* Your movie will face stiff competition from Puteri Gunung Ledang. Are you ready for that?

Like I said earlier tak hebat lelaki Melayu kalau tak kalah kepada perempuan' and I will be losing not to just any woman but to a Puteri (a Princess). But I still must exist. I must still tell my stories.

* Some say your movies depict women in a bad light. Are you anti-women?

I can never be anti-woman. My mother is a woman. I don't judge people. I am not a moralist. No woman is born bad. I will look at the reasons why she becomes bad.

*Your movies always revolve around sex. Why?

Sex is important in my life and I think sex is important in everyone's life. I am comfortable with expressing and capturing sensuality. My movies are never vulgar.

* Have you been betrayed by a woman before?

(Laughs) I try to make myself interesting with the hope that women will not betray me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Alex Komang

I was digging into my file and found this old article where I have interviewed the famous Indonesian actor Alex Komang. The article was published September 28, 2004 Below is the full article. 

Suggested Headline: Addicted to Acting 
Indonesian actor Alex Komang tells Bissme S that acting is like a drug  

Watching Puteri Gunung Ledang, you cannot help but be impressed with the performance of Indonesian actor Alex Komang. His onscreen presence as Gusti Adipati Handaya Ningra is magnetic.
Alex started off as a writer, penning short stories, before moving to theatre and finally to the small and big screen. He won the best actor award in 1985 for his performance in Doea Tanda Mata. In this exclusive interview, the Jakarta-based actor talks about his career and life as an actor.

* What is your definition of acting?

Acting is a torture. Acting requires one to suffer.One must have discipline and learn to make sacrifices. But acting gives me great satisfaction. So I'm willing put up with the torture and the suffering. In my book, I regard whatever I have gone through as sweet suffering.

* What is the greatest sacrifice you had to make as an actor?

As an actor I have to hide my own personality and adopt the character's personality. Only after the shooting is over can I resume my own personality. It can be tiring.

* You started off as a writer. What motivated you to be an actor?

I dabbled in writing as a way of expressing myself. But in writing, you cannot fully express yourself; you cannot use your body or facial expressions. I wanted to use my body language to express myself. What I found lacking in writing, I managed to fulfil through acting.

* Are any of your family members involved in acting?

No. I am the first in my family to be in this line. My father is a teacher and was not keen on the idea of me becoming an actor. In our society, 'anak wayang' (artistes) don't command respect.

* Did your dad finally come to terms with your acting career? Is he proud of your achievement?

I don't know whether dad is proud of my achievements. I have never heard him say that. But honestly, in the end, I think my dad came to accept my choice of career.

* What influenced you to be a writer and actor?

My dad owned a small bookshop. I spent a lot time reading. This naturally led to my interest in writing. You could say my journey into the arts started from there. I joined a writing association that targeted youngsters. Slowly, from there, I was introduced to other forms of art such as theatre and cinema. Acting is like a drug. Once it enters your body, it will not leave you.

* You are father to three children (the eldest is 14 and the youngest five). Do you want your children to follow in your footsteps?

I don't encourage them, but neither do I influence them to stay away. They will have to find their own path in life. If they choose to be in this line, I will guide them. Being an old hand in this industry, I have some experience I can share.

* What do your children think of your acting ability? Are you their favourite actor?

My two older children are at the stage where they feel a little shy to say their father is their favourite actor. My youngest daughter is different. She is so biased. She will insist I am the best and most handsome actor. (he laughs)

* You are 41. You have directed TV shows and stage plays. So when are you going to direct a movie?

I don't believe you have to rush in to do things. In fact, I feel like 28 (pointing at his heart). Many people have commented I look younger than my age. Some even ask me whether I am still single (he says laughing out loud).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

theSun & Sharifah Aini

Today I am just highlighting some articles on Sharifah Aini that had appeared in the sun. This Queen of Songs passed away on July 5, 2014. All you will see is the pages of the articles