DA MAN Darling: Laura Basuki on Portraying a Legendary Athlete

Riga Ramadhan chats with Laura Basuki about the most memorable moments from her epic movie “Susi Susanti – Love All.”

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Laura Basuki is, to put it mildly, a household name. And it’s not exactly hard to see why. For one, she nabbed the Best Actress trophy at the Indonesian Film Festival, the nation’s most prestigious award show, for her role in “3 Hati 2 Dunia 1 Cinta” (“Three Hearts, Two Worlds, One Love”). And that’s just one of the accolades she has to her name. Currently, however, she is busy with promos for her new movie “Susi Susanti – Love All.” In it, she plays as the one and only Susi Susanti, a legend in Indonesia’s badminton scene.

Arriving on set early by herself, Basuki appeared every bit the youthful athlete. She answered questions lightly and seemed to be at ease during the entire interview. “At the moment, I am busy doing promos for my new movie,” she opens the conversation. “This is a biopic movie about Indonesian badminton legend Susi Susanti. It follows the life of Susi Susanti from childhood to when she won a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, and also highlights some of the most iconic moments of her career.”

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While most people in Indonesia would be familiar with the story, the film itself is said to show a different side from Susi Susanti. “Viewers will not only get to see her moments of victory, but also the struggles behind them. Many people might have only seen her when she was at the top, but the film shows the process, the challenges and the intricate situations behind it,” explains Basuki. She also hinted that there will be a monumental scene dealing with Susi Susanti’s experiences as a Chinese Indonesian during the infamous May 1998 riots.

Furthermore, playing this role has proven to be a challenging task for Basuki, who specifically says that the first thing she did when she received the script was look for a scene about … the splits. “The hardest part, for me, is to do the splits,” she reveals with a laugh. “That’s the one thing that I’m afraid of. But luckily, I had five to six months to train my body. And I think it was enough.”

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Of course, portraying Susi Susanti—and portraying her properly—included many more challenges, mostly from the technicalities of badminton. “For this movie, I practiced for five to six months, from Monday to Friday, for six hours every single day,” Basuki explains further. “Like, for example, I would exercise for two hours in the morning and then three hours of badminton in the afternoon with her old coach, Liang Chiu Sia, who is already 70 years old. Later at night, another badminton practice session for one hour. If there is still a bit of energy in my tank, then more training on Saturday.”

Despite the pressure, Basuki acknowledges that she was grateful to land the role and for the chance to watch old footage and consult with Susi Susanti herself. “We had a chance to sit down together and talk several times. I asked her how she felt, not only on the badminton court, but also when she was rehearsing,” she enthuses. “I also asked about details like how she felt during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, her preparation and training. On top of that, I watched her interviews and past matches, to learn more about her completely.”

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Our conversation then veered to Basuki’s memorable moments during the shooting process. “The most memorable moment for me was when we shot the scenes set during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. As you know Susi Susanti won the gold medal there. As I got on the podium and the red and white flag was raised, accompanied by Indonesia Raya [the national anthem] playing, I felt a thrill coursing through my body,” she recalls. “Then I just cried, because I imagined how all of Indonesia became a burden for her to bear. She was the only athlete the people could rely on at the time, so it felt as if the weight of Indonesia was on her shoulders. I can’t forget that feeling.”

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As our conversation came to an end, Basuki talks a bit more about the reason why she took on the training and all of the challenges presented by the role. It was her way to show appreciation for Susi Susanti and what she did for the country.

When asked about what she hoped people will take away from the movie, Basuki replied, without hesitation: “I hope this movie can become an inspiration on how to achieve success. Because we certainly can learn a lot from her experiences. We can learn about her never-give-up attitude, her focus in everything, her love for her country and then apply all of that onto our life.” And this is, for sure, why Laura Basuki is a bona fide star.

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