As an international student living in Australia for nearly 3 years, I have found many awesome ways to spend my Sunday morning. These mostly include having “food babies” with great food loving friends, cultural activities or road trips to the country. However, I must say that having the opportunity to interview two celebrities from Jakarta that have come to Melbourne for the Indonesia Film Festival (IFF) has outshone anything else on my list.

Kapin Kawin screened on Sunday 12 April at IFF 2015. Photo: IFF Website

Kapin Kawin screened on Sunday 12 April at IFF 2015. Photo: IFF Website

Writer and Producer Robert Ronny and supporting actress Feby Febiola were in  Melbourne to present their film “Kapan Kawin, When will you get married?”. This lighthearted comedy focuses on the life of a successful hotel manager from Jakarta, Dinda, who at 33, is tired of her family’s pressure to get married. In a bid to relieve herself of their disapproval, she hires a street actor to accompany her to her family gathering in Jogjakarta and pose as her partner.

After a quick chat about the release of the movie on February 12 in Indonesia and their first visit in Melbourne, Robert Ronny and Feby Febiola kindly answered my questions about the film in a relaxed interview. I then had the opportunity to view the film later that day, at its screening for IFF.

Robert as a writer and producer, tell us, how you came up with the idea for this film?

Well in Indonesia, we have this cultural phenomenon of rudely asking women when they are going to get married. Maybe in Jakarta the pressure is not felt because Jakarta is a megapole hence it is normal to see people in their 30s still single but it is not the case in other cities like Jogya, where we shot the movie. In certain cities if you are a single woman at 25 years old it is considered a sin.

The crazy thing is that in every Indonesian family gathering from Eid to Christmas it is ok to ask “when will you get married?”, whereas in a western culture I believe it is impolite to ask.

As a writer I want the film to question some unshakable values that is in this film, that Indonesian parents are always right! I don’t agree 100% with that saying. Being older doesn’t mean they are wiser. Their own values in today’s society are not applicable to anyone. I have seen parents ruining their own children life by pressuring them to marry.

Feby, what encouraged you to accept to play your character, Nadya, Dinda’s happily married sister?

I directly fell in love with the script because I could relate to the story.

Although I am happily married, I am 36 and people keep asking me if I’m really happy or if there is anything wrong with me because I do not have kids. While in the first place the question should not been asked, because it is my private life.

I believe, parents want the best for their children, they mean well, but sometimes they have to accept that they don’t know what is best.

However, some people from the older generation in Indonesia watched the movie and understood the message behind it, an elderly couple in their 60s told me they won’t put pressure on their daughter to get married.

Feby, do you think this pressure is also felt among men in their 30’s?

Yes, of course our generation think if you are married then you are successful consequently happier than when you are single and that goes for men as well.

In the film my character Nadya is happily married and has a son, and her life looks perfect compared to Dinda, but slowly you discover that things are not what they seem to be.

Robert, what message do you want to deliver with this romcom?

Although I believe comedy does not translate well across culture, I want this lighthearted romcomedy to make people reflect more about that social pressure, i think this pressure is applicable all around the world and everybody wants to be happy.

Interestingly, the divorce rate in Indonesia for the last 5 years is the highest in the Asia Pacific, it is not a taboo anymore to get a divorce that fact demonstrates that society is changing.

Actress Feby Febiola, Fatoumata Diallo AIYA representative and Writer/Director Robert Ronny after the guest interview. Photo: Fatoumata Diallo

Actress Feby Febiola, Fatoumata Diallo AIYA representative and Writer/Director Robert Ronny after the guest interview. Photo: Fatoumata Diallo

The message behind the comedy, the simplicity of the interview and the friendliness of these two celebrities, were all motives to watch the screening later on that night. I nearly forgot that at the very first, one of the reasons that pushed me to attend the film, was the synopsis, it reminded of a French romantic comedy I had seen back home “Prete moi ta main” translated in English as “I do, How to get married and stay single”. The story of a man in his late 30s who made a deal with his best friend’s sister and paid her to act as his temporary wife in order to get rid of his family’s (composed only by women) pressure to settle.

The similarity with the film Kapan Kawin ends with the title, indeed Kapan Kawin’s subtlety addresses the cultural pressure of marriage among women in their 30s in Indonesia. Yes, I mostly spent the first half an hour of the movie laughing, but the underlying theme of this cultural phenomenon takes force towards the end of the film and it is moving.

In his desire to challenge the thought that parents know best for their children and that, no matter how adult they are, Robert Ronny, uses his characters to depict accurate family dinner moments that everyone can relate to (especially me!). And it encourages us all to be true to ourselves.

Finally, the beautiful shoot locations around Jogjakarta, the subtlety of the film within a film, the jokes that sometimes were lost in translation, the chemistry between the two main characters and the unexpected plot from Dinda’s parents make this movie sweet and a must see.