Jakarta. Mamet, the lovable nerd from classic teen flick "Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?," or "What’s Wrong With Love?," is set to return to the big screen, this time as the main character in "Milly & Mamet," the official spinoff from the highly successful teen drama franchise.
In the original Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (AADC, 2002), Mamet (Dennis Adhiswara), the bespectacled high-school nerd, had a major crush on bad boy Rangga's (Nicholas Saputra) love interest Cinta (Dian Sastrowardoyo). His love, needless to say, went unrequited.
In the sequel AADC2 (2016), Mamet returned as the husband of Milly (Sissy Prescillia) – one of Cinta's best friends. The couple were expecting their first child.
Milly & Mamet, slated for a December release, will tell the story of the couple's married life. It's still going to be a romance, but Dennis said the story will be more relatable and "down to earth."
"The focus on AADC is the love story between Cinta and Rangga. They're the center of the film's universe. The rest of us are just planets orbiting them. This time Milly and Mamet are the center. We will see where their relationship will take them," Dennis said during the trailer launch for the movie at Hong Kong Cafe in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Thursday (12/07).
The trailer shows Milly and Mamet re-enacting an iconic scene from AADC 2 where Cinta and Rangga meet in a cafe in Yogyakarta after years of not seeing each other. In that film, Cinta lets loose her pent-up anger at Rangga for dumping her.
In Milly & Mamet, the scene took a comic turn with Milly getting incredibly annoyed by Mamet who can never resist pecking at his food before Milly is able to snap a picture of it for Instagram.
The trailer also features a cameo performance from Sissy’s real-life husband, Rifat Sungkar.
Dennis said compared to Cinta and Rangga’s love story, Milly and Mamet’s will be more relatable, because they go through what "everyone must have gone through, especially young couples."
In the film, Milly has to leave her successful career as a banker to raise a child. Mamet also has to give up his dream of becoming a top chef to work at a company owned by Milly’s father.
The 35-year-old actor said he felt nervous returning to his old role as Mamet because this will be the first time audience will see the the full Mamet, instead of just fragments of the character.
"I was afraid the new Mamet would feel foreign to me. But after some talks with Mira [Lesmana, producer] and Ernest [Prakasa, director], I wasn't worried anymore. The script is just so good, I bet people will go, "This is so me" or "This is so like my partner," Dennis said.
Comedian at the Helm
The original Milly and Mamet were funny characters who provided comic relief in both AADC films. According to Dennis, there will be more comedy in Milly & Mamet than in AADC.
At the helm for Milly & Mamet will be stand-up comedian-cum-director Ernest Prakasa, who wrote the script with his wife, Meira Anastasia, who also had a hand on the script for Ernest's last movie "Susah Sinyal."
The AADC franchise is the brainchild of director Riri Riza and producer Mira Lesmana. Mira picked Ernest to work on the spinoff because she said she was very impressed with his films (which also include the autobiographical "Ngenest" and the sardonic "Cek Toko Sebelah").
Dennis said working with Ernest and Meira has been a joy because "they put their hearts into the story."
"When we went to Yogyakarta [to shoot the trailer], I could just feel their love for this project," he said.
He also appreciated that Ernest and Meira asked for his and Sissy's input to develop the characters.
"Before writing the script, they interrogated me and Sissy about who Mamet and Milly really are, why Mamet’s life takes this and that turn, why he drives a black Volvo and how come Milly is still friends with Cinta and the gang. They even asked us what are the names of our characters’ parents," Dennis said.
Ernest and Meira also worked together with Mira and Riri to make sure the Milly and Mamet in Milly & Mamet stay believable to AADC fans.
"Maybe some people wish Mira and Riri do this project themselves. But don't worry. They’re still around, they will make sure there's a continuity to the story," Dennis said.
Actor, Director, Teacher
Dennis himself has been been doing more directing than acting lately. Most recently, he directed a television series about superheroes called "Jawara" ("Heroes").
In 2015, he co-founded Kratoon Channel, a TV channel specializing in locally made animated films.
He's also the chief executive of Layaria, a marketplace that helps creators connect with brands.
To prep himself for Milly & Mamet – expected to start shooting next month – Dennis had to relearn how to act and tell a story.
"I've told my crew that I'm taking sometime off to act and that they shouldn’t be surprised if I don't recognize them if they call me about work when I’m on set. I want to be in character," Dennis joked.
Dennis – who actually started his career as a director with the El Mariachi-influenced short film for children "El Meler" (2000) – is planning to teach filmmaking because he thinks "there needs to be regeneration" in the local film industry.
He has already taught film classes in Surabaya (East Java), Semarang (Central Java) and Bali. He chose to teach outside Jakarta because he believes the local film industry would benefit from more diversity.
"There's a lot of talents outside Jakarta. But honestly speaking, 75 percent of Indonesian films are based on the taste and values of Jakartans. We have to get more talents outside of the capital into the industry," Dennis said.