For the nineties generation here, the Petualangan Sherina musical movie was as important as Hollywood blockbusters like Jumanji, E.T. and the Star Wars films. Watched by 1.1 million movie goers in Indonesia, the film shot little Sherina Munaf to stardom.
Eighteen years later, the multi-talented singer, songwriter, and actress is right back in the spotlight, thanks to her performance as Anggini in Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Naga Maut Naga Geni 212, a fantasy-action movie based on the novel series by Bastian Tito. She stars with Vino G. Bastian, as Wiro Sableng, Marsha Timothy (Bidadari Angin Timur) and Fariz Alfarazi (Bujang Gila Tapak Sakti).
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How did the adventure begin? “Everything started when I was seven years old,” says 28-year-old Sherina. “I saw singers and dancers on TV, was also obssesed with the classical Disney movies and I dreamt of being free and expressive like them. Watching talented singers perform was fascinating. But at that time my parents didn’t want me to go into entertainment. They told me: ‘Don’t do it, Sher. Focus on your studies’.”
“They decided to send me to a music school founded by the late Elfa Secioria to attend singing classes. During my lessons, Elfa heard my voice, and mentioned about the children’s songs he had written. He offered me to sing his amazing songs and have them all recorded into one album.”
Realising that his daughter was talented in music, her father , Triawan Munaf, collaborated with Mira Lesmana to produce Petualangan Sherina. “Being on the set of one of the best children’s musical movies in Indonesia was certainly an unforgettable memory, especially to be able to experience it during my childhood years, it had shaped the way I personally view many things in life. I feel very grateful to be surrounded with so much creativity” says Sherina. “On top of that the songs are beautiful and timeless.
“Being a child, I didn’t understand everything that was going on at the time. But it was amazing to observe director, Riri Riza, and with respected actors, such as Mathias Muchus, Didi Petet, Butet Kartaredjasa, Ratna Riantiarno and fellow kid Derby Romero. The movie is of course showered with great values about friendship, family, I guess ‘educational’ for kids, but most importantly it was entertaining! And the memories would surely linger with every kid from that generation who watched it.”
Since her big breakthrough as a child star, Sherina focused on her producing albums, composing and singing “Ku Bahagia” for Laskar Pelangi movie, “Cinta Pertama dan Terakhir” and “Sebelumnya Selamanya”. She sang with Westlife on “I Have a Dream” in 2002. She studied abroad in Japan and somehow exceeded her luck by singing for a Studio Ghibli production, an academy award winning animation studio in Japan.
And then the unexpected opportunity to be in Wiro Sableng came along. “Actually, I’d heard before the production started that Lifelike Pictures and Fox International Production were going to make the Wiro Sableng story into a movie,” says Sherina.
“I heard the movie would use the latest technology and involve talented people in the movie industry, so I knew I would really want to see it. When I was in Japan I had become very interested in animation and storytelling, whether from comics, cartoons or movies. But it didn’t cross my mind that I might be in it!
“To make a long story short, I was talking with Lala (Sheila) Timothy about the current state of Indonesia’s movie industry. Was there any place to learn deeply about acting? It was a rewarding conversation, and then it turned even more exciting when she mentioning her plans with the Wiro Sableng movie. I was truly surprised when I was considered to play the role Anggini. At first, I was reluctant, knowing my lack of experience in the movies, however the more I heard about the story, the art concept and the people who were involved in it, it turned out that curiosity won over my insecurities about acting.”
Playing Anggini the warrior was challenging, although she had learned Wushu in the past. “The whole experience, starting with the pre-production phase, took five to six months. We practiced pencak silat and action choreography with Yayan Ruhiyan every day, from 10 am to 5 pm. Then, at night, we started reading and getting closer to the other characters to build chemistry.
“The shooting process took two to three months. It wasn’t easy to shoot in the forest because the weather was so unpredictable. Sometimes it was sunny, but a few hours later it could be hard raining. Then, of course there were the unusual but amazing costumes designed by Adrianto Sinaga.
“After the shooting was done, we had to do several promotions. This took a long time, but it was a good experience to meet with people who were really enthusiastic about the movie.”
Sherina is proud of Wiro Sableng. “I’m very grateful for the chance to get involved in huge movie productions because not all actors can have the same opportunity,” she says. “Sometimes I felt like an impostor on the set. But at the end of the day, I accepted and learned from the experience. As with Petualangan Sherina, I felt lucky and had a lot of fun. The teams on the new movie were amazing, the best. The artistic people, the CGI team, the production designers – everyone was driven by passion. It was a very inspiring moment.”
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