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Indonesian actress Carissa Puteri talks new film ‘Hijab’ and her first time in Melbourne

SUCCESSFUL actress, beautiful wife and mother Carissa Puteri was in town for the premiere of her film, Hijab. The actress had a chat with Samantha Chew about the movie, her impressions of Melbourne and instant noodles.

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Carissa Puteri is not what you would typically expect when you hear “Indonesian actress”. Born in Germany, this Malay-Indonesian-German-Dutch actress is beautiful and accomplished.

Although she holds a degree in Social and Political Science, Puteri has gained attention not in her field of study but in her career of choice: acting. Known for her roles in Indonesian movies such as Ayat-ayat Cinta and The Tabrix Jabrix, she has also starred in various drama series.

Having inherited her love of acting from her mother, also an actress, Puteri launched her career at 20 and has not looked back. 

Following her mother’s advice early on, Ms Puteri finished her education before moving into acting, a decision she felt was the way to go before starting a career in entertainment. And she encourages students dreaming of a working career in the entertainment industry to walk a similar path.

“That’s why, if you are now a student just finish your stud[ies], get your degree and then work [in] whatever [field] you like,” she said.

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Ms Puteri with her castmates in the Indonesian comedy, Hijab, which recently screened at the Indonesian Film Festival. | Image: Hijab (2015)

A more recent success to add to her list of accomplishments is her role in the comedy Hijab, which recently screened in Melbourne as part of this year’s Indonesian Film Festival. Directed by Hanung Bramantyo, the Indonesian comedy features four women who are tired of being housewives and  decide instead to open up their own business selling hijabs.

Ms Puteri said she really liked how the film turned out but was surprised by how the short screening time was at home in Indonesia. “Maybe [because it’s] controversial,” she said.

The controversy that Ms Puteri refers to is of the hijab itself which, due to recent world events, has led to the discrimination of women who don the hijab.

While Ms Puteri does not wear a hijab, her Arabic surname gives her cause to relate to these ostracised women.

“My husband is Arabic and if I want to apply [for a] visa in Europe, I don’t know [if] it’s easy or not because [of my Arabic surname]. But you know what? A lot of Arab people [are not] terrorist[s],” she said.

Despite the controversy, Hijab never loses sight of its lighthearted humour, which is clearly evident in the laughter-filled theatre the evening it screened at the Indonesian Film Festival.

Finally it’s a sunny day todayyy👣👣yeayyyyy….😍😍😍☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️ #melbourne

A photo posted by Carissa Puteri (@carissa_puteri) on

While she was in Melbourne to promote Hijab, Ms Puteri was fortunate enough to also enjoy free time in the city and had no reservations when it came to declaring her love for it. “I like the weather, the coffee place, and [when the] weather [is] cold, just drink some hot chocolate and look around. And my son like[s] the tram,” she said fondly.

During her stay, Ms Puteri posted pictures on her Instagram profile of her and her son, Quentino, visiting Melbourne Museum and ACMI. She also raved about several Indonesian restaurants that are located within the CBD. “I went to Kaki Lima and then what else… Oh! Nelayan. All good. I like spicy, I [got] rice and sambal and Ikan Bilis.” Though she was only in Melbourne for ten days, Ms Puteri says she would hopefully return to Melbourne again in the future. 

Jurassic World at Melboune Museum👌💚 #dinosaurus #melbourne A photo posted by Carissa Puteri (@carissa_puteri) on

For the homesick Indonesian international students here, she recommended joining an Indonesian student society or group. Regarding food, she pointed towards something familiar and simple – instant noodles.

“Maybe if you’re homesick and you miss food from Indonesia, you can just cook it. Because I feel like wow, I [found] Indomie here. I thought I could buy Indomie [in] only Asian supermarket[s] but if i go to Woolworths or Coles I can find [it], wow!”

No doubt Ms Puteri has enjoyed her stay in Melbourne and she would like to express her gratitude.

“I want to thank IFF for having me and screening Hijab here. I’m so happy for all the people who [are] with me; the students, the facilities, the kindness, I’m so thankful for it,” she said.

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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