'Aruna dan Lidahnya': Indonesian Mukbang on the Big Screen

Edwin's new film 'Aruna dan Lidahnya' features a star-studded cast, including Nicholas Saputra and Dian Sastrowardoyo. (Photo courtesy of Palari Films)

By : Joy Muchtar | on 2:52 PM August 14, 2018
Category : Life & Style, Food & Drink, Movies

Jakarta. Palari Films launched the official trailer and poster for its upcoming film "Aruna dan Lidahnya," or "The Birdwoman's Palate," in a restaurant in South Jakarta on Thursday (09/08). The event featured most of the film's star-studded cast, including Dian Sastrowardoyo and Nicholas Saputra.

Aruna is unique because not many Indonesian films are centered around food (though 2014's "Tabula Rasa," about a Papuan boy working in a Padang restaurant in Jakarta, comes to mind).

Food is usually just a supporting actor in mundane dinner table scenes, but this time, it's the main actor.

The trailer gives hints of comedy and drama, with many zoomed-in cooking and eating scenes you see every day. Ladling a steaming bowl of oxtail soup? Check. Making sambals with mortar and pestle? Check.

The dream cast – that also include former rapper Oka Antara and Hannah Al Rashid – are all foodies.

However, eating in front of the camera isn’t as easy as you think.

"I looked like a hot mess," Hannah said, describing how she would always attack the meals she had to eat in the film with unrestrained vigor.

Her co-star Dian, meanwhile, always managed to look elegant.

"She knows her good angles, to make whatever she does look good on the screen. I can’t copy that," Hannah said.

The men, on the other hand, had no problem munching their way through the film.

"I just emptied my stomach and ate," Nicholas said.

Mukbang on the Big Screen 

Popularized by South Korean vloggers, mukbang is the art of eating massive amounts of food in front of a camera. In live mukbang, thousands of viewers would sign in to watch vloggers eat their food – slurping, burping, licking their lips.

One of the teasers featured the main character Aruna, played by Dian, slurping her way through a bowl of noodles.

"You have to find a way to be able to deliver your lines while you're eating. Make sure there's no food in your mouth when it's your turn to speak, or you'll choke," Dian said.

"One minute in this film means four cups of noodles. If you watch other films, the characters would eat small bites or they're filmed as if they've just finished eating. In this film, we actually have to finish off each plate," Nicholas said.

Unique Local Dishes

Director Edwin and scriptwriter Titien Wattimena tried their best to include all the restaurants mentioned in Laksmi Pamuntjak's novel of the same name, from which the film is adapted.

Filming took six weeks in five cities across Indonesia: Jakarta, Surabaya, Pamekasan (Madura), Pontianak and Singkawang.

"We couldn't find some of the restaurants on Go-Food, or even on Google Maps. They're so authentic they're not even on the internet," Oka – who plays Aruna's anti-foodie friend Farish – said.

Oka said he was left in awe at all the amazing dishes that he found while filming the movie.

"There's this amazing clam soup called lorjuk from Madura, it's like a cross between soto and tom yum, with bamboo clams," Oka said.

An actual foodie in real life, after shooting the film Oka said he's now more determined than ever to find – and eat – more local dishes from all over Indonesia.

Aruna dan Lidahnya is set to hit theaters on Sept. 27.

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