Jakarta. The sequel "Surga Yang Tak Dirindukan 2" ("An Undesired Bliss 2"), which returns to Indonesian cinemas on Feb. 9, takes the tale of polygamy to exotic corners of the world, such as Budapest in Hungary.
Fedi Nuril, Laudya Cinthya Bella and Raline Shah reprise their roles as husband and wives Pras, Arini and Meirose in the sequel. In the 2015 drama, Pras took Meirose as his second wife after she tried to kill herself when her boyfriend left her.
During the incident, Meirose was seven months pregnant. She asked Pras to marry her, thus giving a clear kinship status to her child. The movie ends with Meirose leaving Pras and Arini in their hometown, Yogyakarta, because she did not want to make things difficult for Arini.
The sequel sees Meirose as an independent woman in Budapest who runs a small business and raises her son on her own. Her encounter with Arini happens accidentally, as Arini and daughter Nadia (Sandrinna Michelle) go on a book tour of the Hungarian capital.
Director Hanung Bramantyo, who also wrote the script with writer Alim Sudio and producer Manoj Punjabi, casted Reza Rahadian as Syarief, an Indonesian-Hungarian oncologist who is in a relationship with Meirose. When Syarief asked Meirose to marry him, she asked him for more time to settle her divorce with Pras. Things become complicated for everyone involved when they find out that Arini is dying from stage-four cervical cancer.
Hanung said he is happy to be given a chance to direct the sequel.
"This movie speaks about my religion, Islam, and I feel like a lot of people have questions about Islam. I took this job as a chance to explain what I understand about the beauty of Islam. For me, the main thing about Islam is to put our happiness below that of others. Prophet Muhammad also sacrificed himself for the happiness of others," he said.
Hanung refused to say that the movie encouraged polygamy.
"Islam allowed polygamy during the time when women were considered second-class citizens. Prophet Muhammad changed that, he took slaves and widows as wives, thus increasing their social status. We need more people like Pras and Arini, not because they practice polygamy, but because they are willing to sacrifice themselves for the happiness of others," he said.
The story is an adaptation of the sequel of a novel by Asma Nadia, which was published in January.