AT THE PEAK OF HIS GAME
IThe transformation of Abimana Aryasatya — from a runaway teenager to a family man fathering four kids and from a small-timer to one of the most-sought after actors — is a wide trajectory that he attributes to his film career of 16 years.
“It changed me in many ways. It gave me financial security, but on top of that, it gave me a new mentality. Otherwise, I would’ve still been hanging out in IKJ parking cars. I would not be here, having this interview. I might have used different diction or speaking manner.”
He referred to the Jakarta Arts Institute campus, located inside the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts and cultural center in Central Jakarta, his destination when he decided to leave home at the tender age of 12. There, he got acquainted with film students and lecturers who introduced him to filmmaking and acting and opened the doors for him to enter the industry. He got himself a minor role in TV teen comedy series
Lupus from 1995 to 1999 and was involved in some indie movies by his older friends. Abimana appeared for the first time on the silver screen in horror movie Missing in 2005 and made his debut as leading role in another horror flick
Malam Jumat Kliwon in 2007. He was older — he married actress and model Inong Nindya Ayu when he was 19, but his passion for film had not yet grown at that time.
“I took acting merely to earn a living. What other option can an uneducated kid have? If I could type, I could have been a secretary instead,” he said jokingly.
“Well, I tried running a business not long ago, a burger diner. Because I like to have my friends around just for a chat I invited them over and ended up treating them. The business didn’t last long. I just don’t have the cut for business.”
The lead actor of Bulan Terbelah di Langit Amerika (Moon Split in the American Sky) the sequel of which was just released on Dec. 8 talked in a self-effacing demeanor about more changes in his life and his decision to disappear for a while from the screen.
COMING OF AGE
The name of Abimana Aryasatya was catapulted to fame as he bore it for the first time in Putrama Tuta’s film Catatan
Harian si Boy (Boy’s Diary) in 2011 where he stole the scenes with his character Andi.
In the film, he acted opposite the late Didi Petet – who he claims as the most influential figure in his career. “He was my guru, he taught me that the best acting is by being oneself. He piqued my interest on acting and filmmaking and encouraged me to develop myself.”
But his effort in inventing himself to be a new personality had started long before that.
The Jakarta-born actor, who turned 34 on Oct. 24, had for years during the early phase of his career tried to get rid of
his birth name Robertino Candelas Aguinaga and replace it with his current name that can be roughly translated as “a fatherless fighter for integrity”.
There were media reports on him meeting his biological father, a Spanish athlete, for the first time last June after embodying the role in
Sabtu Bersama Bapak (Saturdays with Father) as a dying man who refused to see his children growing up without a father figure.
It would give a nice emotional arc should it happen in a movie, but Abimana preferred to keep it within the family circle.
“The one thing I would never do in life is desert my family. Married life and holding your child for the first time makes you see life differently. And I’m embracing it,” said Abimana, whose eldest son Abel is now a first grader in high school.
This sense of loyalty, taking full responsibility for what he started, is also projected in his approach to every movie role offered regardless of the genre and budget.
“To be honest, I’m a bit tired of the archetype role of Mr. Nice Guy, a devotee who never misses his prayers. Being given the role in a comedy is refreshing and challenging to me.”
The comedy remake, Warkop DKI: Jangkrik Bos! Part 1, and his transformation into the late legendary comedian Dono were the hottest topics this year as the film recorded new highs for a blockbuster movie with nearly 8 million viewers in cinemas. A sequel is currently on postproduction, scheduled for release next April.
As he is at the peak of his game, he has decided to retreat from in front of the camera. Aside from some ongoing projects pending release next year he has declined new offers to be in a movie, unless he can work from behind the scenes.
“I like the creative process of film production, but not the media spotlight. Counting the years I’ve been in the industry, I believe I have the experience and knowledge of making films. I actually have started to play the role as producer and assistant director for three documentary films but they have to wait because of my tight schedule this year. “To be able to do so, I have to join a production house. I’m currently pitching to a few of them, all belong to my friends. Let’s see how it goes.”
During the interview, Abimana, who was in a band called Drona with fellow actor Ario Bayu and whose song “Gadis dalam Mimpi” (Dream Girl) become the soundtrack of film Republik
Twitter (Twitter Republic) where he had the leading role, frequently drops names known in the film circle to whom he owes his dedication to producing cultural-themed films.
“I have made a promise to myself to develop this overlooked genre, which has actually brought me to where I am now. But, please, not as an actor. At least, not for the time being.
“Otherwise, the film would lose its purpose and become a mere commercial project. Especially after the hype of Warkop DKI, I need time for it to die down. My mere being is now just too commercial.”
The one thing I would never do in life is desert my family. Married life and holding your child for the first time makes you see life differently. And I’m embracing it.