IN AGREEING TO PORTRAY A
“WHAT WE NEED RIGHT NOW IS THE AUDACITY TO CREATE SOMETHING NEW AND DIFFERENT” – VINO G. BASTIAN
character created by his own father, Vino G. Bastian admits the pressure was on when making the movie Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut 212. Bastian Tito had created the Indonesian superhero in the 90s.
“It was quite personal for me,” says Vino, aged 36. “I would be lying if I said there was no pressure. But I wanted to challenge myself as an actor. When I started work on the movie, I separated Vino the actor from Vino the son of Bastian Tito - so that I could focus on portraying Wiro in my own way.
“Of course, we wanted to be as faithful as possible to the book, but every actor has its own flair when portraying a role. The pressure was there, but I didn’t think about it that much. I really just enjoyed every part of the process, from discussions about the character to my Pencak Silat training.”
The movie, which came out in the middle of 2018, is directed by Angga Dwimas Sasongko and stars A-list actors like Marsha Timothy (Vino’s wife), Lukman Sardi, Happy Salma and Sherina. When first approached by the director, Vino was hesitant to play the character. But after reading the script, he agreed to do it.
“After seeing how much work the team had put into this movie, from the research to the preparation, I thought to myself: ‘How come these people who are not related to Bastian Tito put so much of their hearts into this project and I, his own son, am doing nothing! This is my chance to give something back to my father, to preserve his creation.’ That’s the main reason why I wanted to take this role.”
Building on the movie’s success at the box office, Vino plans to do more with the character. “We want to expand Wiro Sableng’s universe,” he says. “The movie is the first stage. It’s an introduction to the character and the whole universe. There’s going to be more of it, and maybe Wiro is going to become even crazier! There are plans to create a game around Wiro. So all this is not going to stop with the movie.”
What has been the most challenging character Vino has played so far? “I think every character has its own challenge,” he replies. “For this one, I had to do martial arts training as part of the preparation. Yayan (Ruhiyan) taught me the fighting choreography. I also learned the basics of Pencak Silat.
“In another film, I played a drug addict, I did quite a lot of research for it because I wanted to portray the character as accurately as possible. Like how’s their everyday life, what do they eat, how do they sit, how do they stand? It’s especially difficult to play a character who is known by a lot of people. After all, it’s not just about having a similar physical appearance, but also about the portrayal of the soul of the character.”
Being an actor is not all about winning awards and recognition. “For me, seeing people’s positive reactions after watching my movies is very rewarding,” says Vino. “Whether they’re crying or laughing, just seeing their honest reactions and seeing them emotionally invest so much in the movie - that’s very satisfying for me. It’s a sign that I’ve done a good job. Winning awards and the critics’ acknowledgment are bonuses for me. When people genuinely enjoy my movies, that’s it for me. I’m already happy.”
Currently preparing for another biopic role in 2019, Vino says the Indonesian movie industry has changed since he started out in 2004. “It definitely keeps getting better, whether it’s the distribution, the marketing and promotion, the technology or the quality of the scripts,” he says.
“But what we need right now is the audacity to create something new and different, and for Indonesian cinema goers to have more faith in their own movie industry. They tend to generalise. When a bad movie comes out, they will think that the rest of the films aren’t any better. I say: ‘Go see it first before you say anything bad about it.’
“We do have people who are very dedicated to making good-quality movies. I adore those in the business that aim to spread the word about the Indonesian movie industry. I admire those who are always trying to be creative, to make something different.”