Sat, 12 Aug 2000

Bobby Sandy's TV serial 'Senandung' to air next week

JAKARTA (JP): Starting Saturday, Aug. 19, private TV station Indosiar will air its new 43-episode serial titled Senandung (Humming).

It is worthwhile to note that this new serial, directed by Bobby Sandy, an old hand in film-making, took three and a half years to make, a period likely to be the longest ever in TV serial-making in Indonesia.

So long was the time taken to make it that the production crew often joked about it, saying that Senandung took three Indonesian presidents to complete. Production of the serial began in 1997, when Soeharto was still in power, and was completed during Abdurrahman Wahid's presidency. Following Soeharto and preceding Wahid, it was Habibie that was in the presidential seat.

Senandung has marked a new stage in Bobby Sandy's career as a film director. He is Indonesia's latest film director to try his hand at making a TV film. He is following in the footsteps of other directors such as Teguh Karya, Nasry Cheppy, Nurhadie Irawan, the late Arifin C. Noer, Slamet Rahardjo, Sophan Sophiaan, Hadi Purnomo, the late Wahyu Sihombing, Imam Tantowi and Agus Elias.

Bobby is well-known as a maker of quality films. Critics praise his beautiful and artistic cinematography as a strong point of his work. A film that won widespread acclaim was Selamat Tinggal Jeannette (Good-bye Jeanette), which is set in Surakarta.

Bobby is fond of shooting beautiful sites. No wonder Senandung is like a promotional film for tourism. He has not missed any of the interesting cultural events in Yogyakarta and Bali for the setting of the serial. During the scenes shot in Bali, for example, the audience will see the serial's main character attending grand Balinese rites, such as Galungan and Ngaben.

The serial has not only been shot in Indonesia. The setting also features the imposing Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. According to the storyline, the character is in Paris on business. The romantic scenery of Paris with cafes along the road becomes part of the serial's setting.

As a film director, Bobby is also noted for his meticulousness. El Manik, one of the actors in Senandung, said that the crew of the TV film, particularly those in the artistic division, understand Bobby's fastidiousness. If any of the crew members failed to do their job properly, they would be reprimanded.

"Just imagine how Bobby pays attention to detail. He must know what the interior of a house is like and whose paintings decorate the walls. Then he will also check the tablecloths, the bedcovering, the make of the car and the clothes. In the production of an ordinary film or in TV film-making, the artistic design crew usually deals with this matter and they will simply move the vases to other places or change the paintings," he said.

However, Bobby apologized to the entire crew and cast of Senandung and thanked them for their willingness to stay with him to the end. He also expressed gratitude to model Okky Asokawaty, who was persuaded to join the cast. Senandung marks Okky's first appearance in a TV film. Previously, she was well-known only as a model and presenter.

On location, Okky often burst into tears because she felt her acting fell short of what Bobby wanted. And El Manik, who cannot sing, plays the role of a singer of semi-classical or classical songs, exactly the way that Bobby wanted him to appear in this TV film. To be successful in this role, El Manik had to study how to sing songs of this kind.

El Manik never objected to the long period it took to make this TV serial, believing that what mattered most was that the TV film was satisfactory. "I trust Bobby's directing skills and I am grateful to him for giving me an excellent role," he added.

Okky acknowledged that it was hard work to play in a TV serial directed by someone of Bobby's caliber.

"This is my first TV film and I will think twice before I take another offer to play in any more. To me, playing in a TV film means being another person and to be that other person is a really tiring job," she said.

The cast of Senandung includes, among others, Okky Asokawati, El Manik, Devi Permatasari, Dian Nitami, Ricky Johannes, Ghaleb Husein and Joseph Ginting. Alex Suprapto wrote the script while the cinematography was put in the hands of Berti RPM. The musical arrangement was first handled by Billy Budiarjo, but since his death Dian HP has taken over. (Tuti Gintini)