Jakarta. Senior actresses Widyawati, Niniek L. Karim and Ratna Riantiarno will play together and out-of-character in Sidi Saleh’s new comedy, "Mama-Mama Jagoan" ("Badass Moms"), scheduled for release tomorrow, Nov. 22.
Prim-and-proper beauty Widyawati will play Dayu, a brash and unmarried middle-aged tomboy.
Ratna Riantiarno, now better known as a producer in legendary theater group Teater Koma, plays coquettish hijaber Hasnah who used to be a bikini model in her youth.
Niniek L. Karim, a serious method actor, plays a Batak woman called Myrna who grieves for her recently dead husband.
A press conference for the movie was held at Epicentrum XXI in South Jakarta on Thursday (15/11).
The actresses said they enjoyed the challenge of playing outlandish characters.
"When I read the script, I thought the character was so not me. But I did look forward to seeing Widyawati playing a messy tomboy – she's never done anything like that. And Niniek, she's usually so Javanese, to the bone, and now she plays a Batak woman," Ratna said.
"It became a kind of a competition for us to see which of us can outdo the others in not being ourselves," she said.
Widyawati said she was surprised "the filmmakers were so brave to offer us, a bunch of old ladies, the leading roles."
"Playing out of character ended up being very enjoyable. There were cringe-y moments when I saw the test screens, definitely, Dayu is so messy and that's just so not me. But that's kinda the point, isn't it," she said.
Niniek said she tried to learn Batak woman mannerisms from her siblings who have Batak partners.
"I studied how they look at life, how they express themselves, how they resolve conflicts and yes, all those Batak jokes," she said.
The film's plot follows Myrna's story as she tries to find her long-lost son in Bali and pass the news of her husband’s death.
Myrna's old high school friends Dayu and Hasnah tag along with her and a crazy adventure ensues, one that ends up with the three of them in jail and Myrna reuniting with her high-school boyfriend who is now a lawyer, Parta (Willem Bevers).
The movie is filled with flashbacks, as the three badass moms recall their carefree high school days 45 years ago.
Producer Wilza Lubis said the film will be "light and easy, close to real life and full of lessons on real friendship."
Since the badass moms could not help themselves from getting involved in comical situations, Bali punk band Superman Is Dead's drummer Jerinx, who plays a bartender in the movie, called it "'The Hangover' meets 'Desperate Housewives.'"
Another thing to note is the way the filmmakers create diverse backgrounds for the three characters.
Dayu is a Hindu from Bali, Hasnah is a Muslim from Bandung, West Java, and Myrna is a Christian from Medan, North Sumatra.
Jerinx said the movie is "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" – "Unity in Diversity," the state motto – in practice.
"Yes, it's Bhinneka Tunggal Ika expressed in fun and joyful ways. It doesn't always have to be a political slogan," the betattooed punk rocker said.
"Friends stay together through thick and thin. That's what it's all about. Different ethnic groups with different beliefs sticking together don’t always end up in conflicts. We have to remember that," Widyawati said.