Author Ika Natassa poses for a photo after a press conference for the 'Antologi Rasa' film adaptation at the offices of Soraya Intercine Films office in Gondangdia, Central Jakarta, on Friday. (JG Photo/Dhania Sarahtika)

Ika Natassa's Books Lined Up for Film Adaptation


JANUARY 10, 2019

Jakarta. Written in 2015, "Critical Eleven" was the first book by Ika Natassa to be adapted for the silver screen. Following its 2017 release, the film attracted 881,530 viewers and won several awards, the most recent being best leading actress for Adinia Wirasti at the 2018 Asian Academy Creative Awards in Singapore.

Ika and Soraya Intercine Films are now set to release the adaptation of "Antologi Rasa" ("Love Anthology") on Feb. 14. The film, directed by Rizal Mantovani, features Herjunot Ali, Refal Hady and newcomer Carissa Perusset.

Speaking to reporters on Friday last week, Ika said she had three other books lined up for the big screen.

One of them is "Twivortiare," an upcoming film that merges her two books "Twivortiare" and "Dwivortiare." Directed by Beni Setiawan and produced by MD Pictures, production will begin on Friday, with household names such as Raihaanun, Reza Rahadian, Anggika Bosterli and Arifin Putra in the cast.

"The Architecture of Love" is next in the pipeline, with Soraya Intercine Films once again as the production house. There is one other book on the list, but Ika has yet to reveal the title, since the details are still subject to negotiation.

Ika said sales of her books "Antologi Rasa" and "Critical Eleven" have both surpassed 100,000 copies and show no signs of slowing. She added that her books, up to her first work "A Very Yuppy Wedding" (2007), continue to be reprinted.

The author, who has more than 80,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter, respectively, continues to share her enthusiasm for the film adaptations with fans on social media. Updates on the films flood her feeds, even preceding the studios in charge for the films. Photos of the cast and behind the scenes of "Antologi Rasa," for example, have been appearing on Ika's social media feeds since last year.

"If you ask me why I gave the rights to film my books, it's because I want to enjoy my works in a different medium, and that is film. I was happy with 'Critical Eleven.' We'll make a big bang with this one ['Antologi Rasa'] too, hopefully," Ika said.

Though Ika is not writing the screenplay, she is still protective of her books and maintains intense communication with producers during filming.

"I'm very protective of my work. In my contracts with film producers, there are always a clause that allows me to involve myself in the decision-making [process], including casting, script finalization, promotion strategies, everything. I'm a control freak," she said.

But being involved in the production does not necessarily mean everything must match the book.

"An adaptation is not about copying and pasting scene by scene. It means that the feeling when you read the novel is similar to when you see the movie," said Ika, whose favorite book-to-film adaptation is David Fincher's "Gone Girl," originally written by Gillian Flynn.

More Indonesian books have been adapted for the screen over the past few years, from romance, such as Ayudia Bing Slamet and Ditto Percussion's "#TemanTapiMenikah" ("Friends but Married") and Pidi Baiq's "Dilan 1990," to horror, such as Risa Saraswati's "Danur" series.

Moreover, those adaptations turned out to be box-office hits, with "Dilan 1990" as a prime example with more than 6 million viewers, which made it last year's most-watched local film.

Ika sees this as a positive trend.

"Reading is not everyone's cup of tea, so when a book is turned into film, it's an opportunity for the story to reach more people," said the woman who also wrote the novelized version of Ernest Prakasa's family comedy film "Susah Sinyal," ("No Signal") published last year.

An archetype of Ika's books is that of the independent, successful career woman.

"In every single one of my books, the [main] character is always an independent, smart woman who has problems just like other women in general. They face problems in love and friendship. I want to show that women are multidimensional," Ika said.

However, reviewers have often pointed out that Ika's stories only revolve around upper-class Jakartans, typically code-switching between Indonesian and English as they speak. In response to this, Ika said she has only written stories based on her experiences and those of the people around her.

"I always write about things that are close to my daily life. I work full-time, so I don't have time to do much research about other things," she said with a laugh.

"Also, I want to show that relatable characters don't have to come from a certain economic stratum, because no matter your economic background, deep down emotionally, we face the same problems. We are still insecure about love. Money doesn't make a difference how you feel when it comes to love, relationship and friendship," said Ika, who works as a banker at Bank Mandiri.

Besides tending to film adaptation projects, Ika is also writing a new book titled "Heartbreak Motel," set to be published next year.