Jakarta. Actor and DJ Winky Wiryawan is making his comeback to the silver screen after a four-year hiatus as a "kampung rockstar" in "Rocker Balik Kampung," or "Rocker Comes Home," set for release on July 12.
Winky plays washed-out rockstar Juhana "Joe" Santani who is summoned back to his kampung when his village-head father is on his deathbed. Young Joe was banished from the village many years ago for his unholy love of rock n' roll, but now he will have to return to his old kampung for good.
Winky is known for his starring roles in "Mengejar Matahari" ("Chasing the Sun"), "Titik Hitam" ("Black Spot") and "Berbagi Suami" ("Love for Share"). His last film before this comeback was the drama-thriller "3SUM" in 2013.
The actor has had a stop-start acting career since he's also a popular disc jockey in Jakarta's clubbing scene.
"In the past four years, I’ve been working weekdays and weekends as a DJ. I get acting offers, but my schedules wouldn't allow it," he said during a press conference in Kemang, South Jakarta, on Thursday (05/07).
The offer to play the leading role in Rocker Balik Kampung came at the right time, just when Winky was "laying low from the night life" for a few months before he went on the umroh – a short pilgrimage to Mecca undertaken by Muslims outside the hajj season.
Winky said senior actress Jajang C. Noer also encouraged him to get back into acting since there’s a shortage of good male actors in the Indonesian film industry.
In the film, Winky dons an old-school hair metal outfit: a long wig wrapped in a bandanna, a leather jacket and leather boots. He said Joe's sartorial inspiration was the legendary Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses.
Winky himself is actually more into the heavier side of rock, forming a thrash metal band last year called "Rahasia Intelijen" ("A Spy's Secret").
It wasn't hard for him to convince the filmmakers he was fit for the role of a kampung rocker, though he still needed training to improve his guitar-shredding skills and learn the more effeminate body language of a hair metal dude.
"Training Winky to become a real rocker wasn’t hard. He loves rock and metal. He's already got the soul of a rocker," director Uli Rahman said.
The film is set in a kasepuhan, a village populated by indigenous Sundanese. The movie’s fictional Kasepuhan Sinar Asih is actually a real village by the name of Kasepuhan Sinar Resmi in Sukabumi, West Java, a 10-hour drive from Jakarta.
Though Winky is Sundanese, he still went through a mild culture shock trying to adapt to local culture while filming.
"I was born and raised in Bandung [West Java’s capital]. So I was actually looking forward to speak Sundanese again. But when I got there [to the kasepuhan], I realized the Sundanese spoken there was very different. Especially the intonation," he said.
But luckily for Winky, the character he plays is supposed to be thoroughly urbanized and does not speak much Sundanese anyway.
Winly also had to get used to staying in Imah Gede, the house where the village's abah (head) lives and works. Winky also had to wear a traditional headband at all times while he was staying in the kasepuhan.
Winky admitted initially he had trouble understanding his character's motives.
"I didn’t know what a kasepuhan was. When I read the script, I couldn't believe that a successful and rich rockstar would want to go back to his village. If they wanted him to run as governor, maybe...," Winky joked.
"But then I learned what a kasepuhan is all about, it's like a little kingdom. Joe's come home to become king," he said.