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BWW Review: BAWANG MERAH BAWANG PUTIH at INDONESIA KAYA

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The penultimate episode brings a surrealist vision to the screen.

BWW Review: BAWANG MERAH BAWANG PUTIH at INDONESIA KAYA The penultimate episode of #MusikalDiRumahAja, Bawang Merah Bawang Putih, has been broadcast. With a quirky and distinctive art director, the episode is visually interesting and has an intriguing narrative take, although it might not appeal to everyone.

The fifth episode in the series was made by Sari Madjid (theatrical director) and Fajar Nugros (cinematic director) from the script written by Tittien Wattimena. The music was done by Haris Pranowo. As a reminder, the series itself was made through the collaboration BOOW! Live and Indonesiakaya.com. The latter's YouTube channel became the platform of distribution of choice.

Bawang Merah Bawang Putih opened with a dialogue between Bawang Putih (Sha Ine Febriyanti) and her late father (Gabriel Harvianto). It was refreshing for an episode not to rely on narration from the beginning. During the conversation, the two reminisced on how the father had married his new wife (Netta Kusumah Dewi) who had brought a daughter from her previous marriage, Bawang Merah (also played by Sha Ine Febriyanti).

But Putih's father had passed away; Merah showed her true colors and treated White as a maid-servant, while their mother said nothing. One fateful day, while White was hanging up laundry on the clothesline, the wind blew Merah's clothing. White gave chase and met a mysterious old woman (Olivia Zalianty).

BWW Review: BAWANG MERAH BAWANG PUTIH at INDONESIA KAYA

The old woman told Putih to clean her house and as thanks offered Putih a choice of two pumpkins. Always humble, she took the smaller pumpkin. At home, she found out that the pumpkin was filled with gold and jewelries.

Jealous and greedy, Merah approached the old lady and demanded a gift - the larger pumpkin. She went home and smashed the pumpkin alongside her mother, only to be met with large and angry snakes.

The phantom of Putih's father appeared again, asking what she will do. She decided to forgive them, as they were the only family she had now. The epilogue narrated that the three women lived in harmony ever after.

This retelling of the folktale had interesting ideas, including telling the backstory through a dialogue between Putih and her father's ghostly image and trying to make a happy ending by reconciling the three women.

However, certain things that would've better shown on screen (like Merah's supposedly harsh treatment towards Putih and the aforementioned ending) were relegated to text.

BWW Review: BAWANG MERAH BAWANG PUTIH at INDONESIA KAYA

Perhaps it was an unfortunate consequence of the double-casting, the tight deadline, or simply an artistic choice. Whatever the reason might be, the result felt just slightly off.

Art-wise, Bawang Merah Bawang Putih has a striking sense of style in a similar vein to Timun Mas. It is highly fanciful and surrealist. The main characters' home, for example, was depicted as a series of doors standing in an open reddish area with black-and-white checkered tiles (rendered with CGI). A similar sensibility also pervades the costume and make-up design. The resulting visuals might appeal to people with certain aesthetic preference, but might seem weird to the general public.

BWW Review: BAWANG MERAH BAWANG PUTIH at INDONESIA KAYA

Song-wise, none of them really stood out, either in a good way or a bad way. The written tunes were perfunctory and relevant to the immediate situation at hand, but little more than that. As for the acting, the approach was definitely fitting for the tone of the episode, but might come across as hammy or stilted when taken out of context.

Taken altogether, Bawang Merah Bawang Putih is an interesting exercise in adapting a well-known story into the web musical format. Imbued with a quirky sense of style and fresh new take on the tale, the episode can surely find its niche among musical lovers.

Photo credit: Media Image Dynamics for #MusikalDiRumahAja


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