Flower power

Bunga Ci­tra Les­tari takes on one of her tough­est roles yet in tear­jerker Su­rat ke­cil Un­tuk Tuhan.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Front Page - By ANGELIN YEOH en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

BE­FORE tak­ing on the lead role in Su­rat Ke­cil Un­tuk Tuhan, Bunga Ci­tra Les­tari warned her Malaysian ac­tor hus­band Ashraf Sin­clair that things would be dif­fer­ent.

In the movie, the 34-year-old ac­tress – who is known for her bub­bly per­sona – plays Angel, a lawyer who em­barks on a har­row­ing search to find An­ton, her long-lost brother in Jakarta, In­done­sia.

“I told Ashraf be­fore shoot­ing be­gan that it was go­ing to be tough be­cause the movie is de­press­ing,” she said dur­ing an in­ter­view in Kuala Lumpur re­cently.

Su­rat Ke­cil Un­tuk Tuhan high­lights the prob­lems faced by ne­glected street kids in Jakarta.

Bunga ex­plained that most peo­ple have an un­kind per­cep­tion of the way street kids roam around in the city ask­ing for money and food from strangers.

“In In­done­sia, the gen­eral per­cep­tion is that th­ese kids are lazy. They don’t want to work. But it’s not like that. It’s not their choice to be like that,” she said.

Angel and her brother An­ton are or­phans who run away from an abu­sive uncle only to end up in a syn­di­cate where they are re­quired to per­form songs in traf­fic for money.

An accident causes the sib­lings to be sep­a­rated; Angel is adopted by a lov­ing fam­ily and re­lo­cates to Australia while An­ton is led away to a mys­te­ri­ous place.

“When I read the script, I got goose­bumps and I cried. Ashraf cried as well when I told him about the story,” said Bunga, who mar­ried Ashraf in 2008. The cou­ple has a sixyear-old son, Noah.

The In­done­sian ac­tress said be­ing a par­ent her­self may have been one of the rea­sons why she was emo­tion­ally af­fected dur­ing the mak­ing of the movie.

“As par­ents, Ashraf and I learned about how cruel life is to chil­dren who are left to fend for them­selves on the streets. I was de­pressed while shoot­ing this film. There was a dark feel­ing that I couldn’t seem to shake off,” she rem­i­nisced.

Su­rat Ke­cil Dari Tuhan was filmed in April this year and Bunga said she main­tained a pro­fes­sional de­meanour on set. There was never a time when shoot­ing had to be post­poned for her to re­gain com­po­sure.

“I’m not that kind of ac­tor. I know how to switch off dur­ing film­ing and just fo­cus on cry­ing for the scenes.

“If I need time ... maybe just one or two min­utes? Then I’m ready to start work again,” she ex­plained.

Af­ter film­ing wrapped up, Bunga said her 37-year-old hus­band no­ticed that she had be­come dis­tant. At this in­ter­view, Bunga as­sured us that she would not let her emo­tions get the best of her.

“It’s tak­ing some time for me to get back to be­ing Bunga. Right now, I’m still in the process,” she said.

Bunga is also aware that un­like Angel, she is in a much more for­tu­nate place.

“I should be thank­ful that I still have my hus­band, my son, par­ents and so on.”

Bunga made her act­ing de­but in a sup­port­ing role on a TV se­ries back in 2002. She then es­tab­lished her­self as a suc­cess­ful pop singer with the re­lease of de­but al­bum Cinta Per­tama in 2006.

In March, Bunga per­formed a sold-out con­cert for 3,500 fans in Jakarta. The event which took six months to plan had a pro­duc­tion cost of RM2.5mil.

A beam­ing Bunga, who was also one of the pro­duc­ers of the con­cert, shared why the suc­cess mat­tered: “In In­done­sia, a lot of peo­ple say you can’t make money from stag­ing a con­cert. I proved them wrong!

“My team and I got to do some­thing that most peo­ple say is not pos­si­ble. It was crazy. I have to say it was one of the best things I’ve done in my life.”

When asked about how much she made from the event, Bunga said coyly “Ada lah...”

With 5.9 mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram and hailed as one of the most pop­u­lar stars in In­done­sia, Bunga knows that she is in a po­si­tion to in­spire change.

Through her work, she wants to prove that any­thing is pos­si­ble with a lit­tle bit of courage.

“I gained this un­der­stand­ing that if you re­ally want some­thing, you have to work hard, be­lieve (in your­self ) and then you can achieve it.”

With act­ing, Bunga said she is care­ful to choose mean­ing­ful scripts with an im­por­tant mes­sage to con­vey and Su­rat Ke­cil Un­tuk Tuhan fit the bill.

“Ev­ery­body has their own way of in­spir­ing change. With movies, I’m game for any­thing that high­lights so­cial is­sues. If it’s also chal­leng­ing for me, like a role that I have never done be­fore, then I’m all for it.” Su­rat Ke­cil Un­tuk Tuhan opens at cin­e­mas na­tion­wide to­day. For GSC show­times, turn to P13.

Bunga cried when she read the script for Su­rat Ke­cil Un­tuk Tuhan. When the ac­tress shared the premise of the movie with hus­band Ashraf, he got emo­tional as well. — NORAFIFI EHSAN/The Star

Angel and An­ton are or­phans look­ing for ways to sur­vive in the city in Su­rat Ke­cil Un­tuk Tuhan. — GSC Movies

Bunga re­leased the sin­gle Wanita Ter­ba­ha­gia and it was ded­i­cated to her hus­band, Malaysian ac­tor Ashraf. — Filepic

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