Dian Sastrowardoyo & Timo Tjahjanto Talk Indonesian Streaming Tentpole ‘Ratu Adil’; Watch Exclusive Clip

EXCLUSIVE: Ratu Adil has been marked as a tentpole series in the burgeoning Indonesian streaming market, and here’s an exclusive clip ahead of the action series’ release.

The eight-episode crime drama is launching on local streamer Vidio tomorrow (February 29) and stars Dian Sastrowardoyo, fresh off her leading role in Netflix’s global hit Cigarette Girl, with prolific filmmaker Timo Tjahjanto as producer. The series also stars Nino Fernandez and Hana Malasan.

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In a time where American streamers like Disney+ and Amazon’s Prime Video have sharply cut back on original content production in Indonesia, an important spotlight has grown on homegrown streamers such as Vidio, and how they can fill the gap.

Ratu Adil tells the story of a housewife named Lasja Seoryo (played by Sastrowardoyo) seeking to protect her family from Jakarta’s ‘9 Dragons’ mafia. The clip sees Lasja engaged in a life-or-death shoot out in a dimly-lit corridor, as voiceover plays through.

For Sastrowardoyo, Ratu Adil marks her first leading role in an action project in several years and comes after playing Dasiyah, the daughter of a tobacco manufacturer, in Netflix’s Cigarette Girl. “It’s quite refreshing for me to do this, after just getting out from a very intense character like Dasiyah, and then being offered this very modern character that comes from Jakarta, where it’s very metropolitan,” Sastrowardoyo told Deadline.

She said there were “very dark” elements of Ratu Adil about the ‘9 Dragons’ mafia business, but also included action and a family aspect, “so this is a really nice stretch as an actress.”

“I did a lot of preparation in terms of physical training, because the character that I’m playing needs to be able to handle a gun well, and it was my first time handling a gun,” Sastrowardoyo added. “It was physically also very rigorous.”

As evidenced in our clip above, the training went well.

Fresher talents

Ratu Adil is also the first time that horror maker Tjahjanto, who counts Netflix’s first Indonesian film The Night Comes For Us on his credit list, is producing a series — opting instead to let his long-time assistant directors Tommy Dewo and Ginanti Rona helm the show as directors. “They are fresher talents — you don’t want an old dog like me to keep on doing all the directing,” he said.

He later added that with multiple directing projects on his plate currently, producing Ratu Adil was the right role for him, especially after trying to develop the story since 2019. Tjahjanto is currently attached to the U.S. remake of Train to Busan (titled Last Train to New York) as director, and is known for making comedy film The Big 4 for Netflix as well as horror hits like Macabre, V/H/S/2, Killers and The Night Comes For Us.

Tjahjanto said that one of the biggest lessons he has learned from producing Ratu Adil is the amount of detail that he can deliver in a series, compared to the feature film format. However, adapting to the many evolutions in the script and improvisations during production was another key difference he noticed.

“You have to adjust a lot of the things from the initial script initially,” said Tjahjanto. “When the story starts from Point A, midway, we suddenly find ourselves having to improvise little bits and pieces in order to accommodate this massive roster that we have.

“We are talking about nine families in the mafia, and each of these families have kids and wives. It’s also just a massive undertaking for our producers and directors to juggle the entire cast and their schedules.”

With several big projects in the pipeline beyond Ratu Adil, including Netflix’s The Shadow Strays and Last Train to New York, Tjahjanto added that remains nervous about out what audiences want from his work.

“I didn’t grow up here [in Indonesia], so my sense of locality is still sort of a trial-and-error,” he added. “Indonesia has a specific sensibility. I’m sometimes known as the guy who makes bloody and dark stuff but that’s not necessarily who I am as a filmmaker. You have to walk that line between wanting to be a sustainable businessman in a way, but also wanting to be an artist. It is very important to put the art ahead, because otherwise you’re going to be stagnant.

“For example, with The Big 4, I’m not usually well known for comedy but I did that because it was time to change my wheelhouse a bit. In two or three years from now, I’m planning to make a kids movie or a musical. As a creative person, you need to feel like a kid all the time; otherwise you’re just strictly being a businessman.”

Likewise for Sastrowardoyo. The actress found a successful second wind after taking a six-year hiatus from the film industry. Returning only in 2014 after working in an American consulting firm, she said that the break from acting gave her like a different view towards work in in the film industry.

“Coming back to this industry, I can see opportunities in a different way. I have a different work ethic, after having been in a consulting firm,” she said. “Now I can understand more about how business and investment works in the film industry and that is really exciting.”

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