Headline : Thriving On Challenges
By Bissme S
Director Sisworo Gautama Putra’s Pengabdi Setan produced in 1980, is an iconic Indonesian horror film that went on to be
screened in Japan and the United States. In April this year, award-winning director Joko Anwar (Pintu Terlarang & A Copy of
My Mind) shot a remake of this classic, which is slated for release in Indonesian cinemas at the end of the year.
Playing the lead in Joko’s version of Pengabdi Setan is award-winning Malaysian actor-director-producer Bront Palarae. In an exclusive interview with theSun, the 38-year-old actor says: “Pengabdi Setan has been Joko’s favourite film since childhood. He always wanted to remake the film.”
Bront says that he is honoured to be part of the project which is so close to Joko’s heart, adding that the director had kept the
iconic elements from the old film, and brought in some new changes to the remake.
“You will get a sense of deja vu and some freshness from the film,” he says, adding that the movie is about a man trying to
keep his family from the brink of destruction.
Bront first met Joko in late 2014 when the director saw his performance as an eccentric filmmaker in Terbaik Dari Langit,
which later won him the best actor award at the 2015 Asean International Film Festival & Awards.
Joko praised the film on Twitter, which led to an invite to meet with Terbaik Dari Langit’s cast and crew. “That was my first
time meeting him,” says Bront.
Before long, Joko offered Bront a role in HBO Asia’s Halfworlds, a landmark English-language supernatural-themed
TV series. Pengabdi Setan is their second project together.
Bront takes on the role of father-of-four Bahri Suwono, who has just buried his wife. When strange, eerie incidents
start happening in his house, Bahri suspects someone has been dabbling in black magic and now, he spirits are haunting his
“You feel like you are watching an Agatha Christie whodunit,” says Bront, who had to learn Bahasa Indonesia to play
While waiting for Pengabdi Setan to premiere, the actor is not sitting on his laurels. Next week, Bront will be
leaving for the Philippines to shoot another chilling horror film, Daddy’s Home.
He plays a man who returns home after a few months working onboard a ship. But his wife and teenage son soon realise he is not
the same person. The film will be directed by award-winning Malaysian filmmaker Bradley Liew, who is
based in Manila, and produced by award-winning Philippine producer Bianca Balbuena.
The two had previously worked together on the film, Singing in Graveyards. For Daddy’s Home, Bront has to learn Tagalog to get into the skin of his character. Asked why he is going for roles in foreign films, Bront explains: “When I act in these
foreign productions, nobody really knows who I am. I am almost like a newcomer and have to prove myself all over again.
“That is a good feeling. I want to be out of my comfort zone. I want to be put in a new place where I have to struggle to play a
role. I would rather be an anchovy in a big sea, than a big fish in a small pond.”
As for local productions, the actor has just completed shooting Safari Mall, a comedy directed by Jordan Suleiman, about a group of people trapped in a shopping mall which is suddenly attacked by aliens.
Bront says he will be playing himself in this film. “Sometimes, as an actor, we impersonate others and mock them. Here, the
audience will see Bront Palarae mocking Bront Palarae.”
Next year, Bront goes behindthe camera to direct his second film, Dawn Raid: The Hands that Rattled the Queen
, based on a true story about the Guthrie Group, a British trading firm which controlled the Malaysian rubber plantations.
In 1981, a group of Malaysian businessmen took control of the company through the stock exchange, with the aim of
returning the plantations back to local ownership.
“We are not doing a pure business film,” Bront explains.
“We are approaching it like a heist film. Through this film, we want to say that it is cool to serve your nation again.”