“Ini film zaman dulu kak, hitam putih. Beneran mau?“, the box office attendant asked in disbelief upon my request to purchase tickets for matinee show of the restored 1956’s Tiga Dara (Three Sisters).
It seemed like the sight of millennials siblings going into cinemas to watch an archaic black and white movie was not something that that attendant anticipated.
But I am sold the moment I knew, from Alex Sihar’s talk in TEDxJakarta, about how this evergreen musical from the legendary Usmar Ismail put a foundation in pop culture scene of Indonesia. The influence of the movie was so profound to the older generation, perhaps the impact was equivalent to my generation’s Petualangan Sherina, if not more. It is said that people of that era were so infatuated by the casts, music, and fashion of the movie.
As the title suggests, Tiga Dara tells a story about three sisters whose love life are somehow intertwined. The three sisters named Nunung, Nana, and Neni lived with their father and grandmother. After their mother’s passing, the eldest Nunung took care of the family’s chores.
At the age of 29, the grandmother exhorted Nunung to marry a man of her choice. But since the introverted Nunung was not seeing anyone, the grandmother set a plan with a help of the father and two other sisters to find a man for Nunung, who gave a lukewarm response to this crazy idea.
One morning, a man named Mas Totok came into Nunung’s life through a fortuitous encounter at the market. Although at first Nunung was so aloof, Mas Totok stole not only Nunung’s heart but also Nana’s. Being the youngest one, Neni came up with a comical scenario to solve the love triangles between Nunung, Nana, and Mas Totok.
I learned from this film that even though decades have changed, marriage in Indonesia is still seen as a family affair rather than a personal choice. The grandmother personified the old generation who sees marriage as a means to complete one’s life. Meanwhile, Nunung and her father represent the younger and more progressive generation who sees marriage as a choice rather than an obligation.
We witness how Nunung, who was a year short of turning 30, had to deal with societal pressure to get married before turning 30. The sheer pressure did not hinder Nunung from voicing out her own aspiration. It is impressive to see how women at that era are already depicted opinionated and take full control of their life. This view, in my opinion, should be retained in today’s films.
The music of this movie was beautifully composed by Saiful Bahri whose works were pretty much influenced by the traditional music of Melayu and swing. As the restoration team could not locate the whereabouts of the original record, they decide to re-record the songs with today’s musical talents such as Sari Sartje, Bonita, Monita, Danilla, Mondo Gascaro, and many more, arranged by the talented Indra Perkasa.
Considered as the trailblazer of Indonesian pop culture at its time, Tiga Dara has recruited a whole new generation of fans in its come-back. I am definitely one of them.