Augie Fantinus plays both Ateng and Agung in 'Lagi-Lagi Ateng,' directed by Monty Tiwa. (Photo courtesy of 13 Entertainment)

'Lagi-Lagi Ateng' Pays Tribute to Legendary Comedians


JANUARY 14, 2019

Jakarta. Andreas Leo Ateng Suripto, born Kho Tjeng Lie, was a famous Chinese-Indonesian comedian from the 1970s until his death in 2003. He was part of the comedy group Kwartet Jaya, along with Iskak Darmo Suwiryo, Eddy Sud and Bing Slamet.

Ateng starred in many comedies, playing titular roles in "Ateng Minta Kawin" ("Ateng Wants to Get Married") (1974), "Ateng the Godfather" (1976) and "Ateng Bikin Pusing" ("Ateng Is Driving Me Crazy") (1977).

Now his legacy continues in Monty Tiwa's "Lagi-Lagi Ateng," ("Not Ateng Again") starring Augie Fantinus as Ateng and Soleh Solihun as Iskak, who is Ateng's caretaker and sidekick in the film.

The story centers on Ateng and his twin, Agung – both characters played by Augie. Their parents' divorce separated them when they were babies. Ateng lives with their Javanese aristocrat father (Surya Saputra) in Salatiga, Central Java, while Agung lives with their mother Ratna (Unique Priscilla) in Jakarta. The characters are not aware of each other until they accidentally meet in Jakarta.

Thus begins their scheme, similar to the plot in the film "The Parent Trap," to switch places and get their parents to reconcile.

"Lagi-Lagi Ateng" also stars Julie Estelle as Agung's assistant, Cemplon, as well as Rohana, an alumna of the legendary comedy troupe Srimulat, as Mbok Sutinah.

The film's producer, Manoj Samtani of 13 Entertainment, said it is not a remake, but an original story meant as a tribute to Ateng and Iskak.

"We want to reintroduce Ateng. It's not a remake, but a tribute… This is to invite people, including our kids and the next generation, to remember him. Though it is Augie playing Ateng, Ateng is still the legend here," he said after the press screening on Jan. 7.

Production of the film began in May last year, but 13 Entertainment approached Ateng's family the year before.

Director Monty Tiwa commented that the project was "mission impossible" and "exciting but terrifying."

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. The hardest task was not to ruin fans' memories of Ateng," Monty said.

He also acknowledged the challenge faced by Augie, because not only did he have to impersonate Ateng, he also had to play his twin, Agung.

The cast and filmmakers praised Augie for giving his best to play the two characters, which were Augie's first leading roles.

Monty said common techniques, such as motion tracking and computer-generated imagery, or CGI, were used in filming the twins, but the success also owed much to the body double, Ribut Mardiyanto, a former member of comedy group Srimulat.

Ribut initially began as an acting coach for Augie and Soleh, but he was later hired as Augie's body double.

"Ribut trained me and Augie five days a week for a month. He used to write stories for Srimulat and knew Ateng and Iskak personally," Soleh said.

Soleh also faced challenges of his own. The Sundanese actor had to play a Javanese comedian and even sing a traditional Javanese song, which he admitted he could not master to this day.

As a G-rated movie, "Lagi-Lagi Ateng" is meant to teach audience members of all ages the meaning of family. Unfortunately, the lead actor could not attend the premiere as he is currently in prison for breaking Indonesia's Electronic Information and Transactions Law by uploading a video on Instagram, falsely accusing a police officer of ticket scalping during last year's Asian Para Games.

His wife, Adriana Bustami, brought a letter from Augie saying that he was grateful to be part of the cast and expected the public to learn from the film's positive message.

"No matter how smart or rich we are, we are weak without family. It's time to love our family more after watching this movie," Augie said in the letter.

Lagi-Lagi Ateng is currently playing in cinemas.