Character Development (Part I)

Kemarin IDS memberikan pekerjaan rumah tentang character development dalam membuat film. I think I’m going to answer the quiz here.

1. What does she think of his father? What does he hate and like about them? What influence did his father have on him?

For Akasha, father figure is both important and irrelevant. She has a father, but he is just not there. She grew up with his father always besides her, but it was never the type of existence she desires.

She hate the fact that her father never once listen to her cry – even the most desperate ones. She loathe the conditions that she has to live in, where wanting a better future for herself is hampered by the present and dragged by her father’s past. And yet, she still cherish every evening she spent seeing his father.

It is thus safe to assume, that Akasha never received any beneficial influence from his father. It was the other way around, and it will always be – at least that’s what she’s hoping for.

2. Her mother? How does she think of her? What does she hate and like about her? What influence did she – in her opinion – have on him?

Akasha’s view on her mother is quite similar with her view on her father. But somehow, it is filled with a tad bit more of confusion.

Akasha’s mother left her and her father when she was still a child, even she does not remember how young she was. She remembers, vaguely, about the fight and shout that her parents had before her mother decided to abandon the family. But little does she knows what ignited the fight.

Divorce was never filed – or so she thinks. Only one day, Akasha saw a man fold his hands around her mother’s hip while they pick Akasha up to spend the weekend together. It was weird, it was heartbreaking, and also confusing. Because if there is a thing that Akasha know is that her father still loves her mother.

3. Her brothers, sisters? What does she like about them? Why? What does she despise?

Akasha is an only child. She does not have any brothers and sisters. She does have tons of cousins, and she can only remember two of them.

One is an older, male cousin named Aadinath. Akasha remembers him because every single time they meet each other, he will peck Akasha’s forehead, right cheek, left cheek, nose, chin, and lips in a sequential order. It’s always been this way ever since Akasha could remember.

The other one is Aadinath’s little sister, Akuti. It is safe to say that Akasha grew up with Akuti. They went to the same school, they went to the same course sites, hell, they even rode the same bike (as Akuti’s old bike will eventually passed to Akasha, as well as many other Akuti’s goods). Maybe, the only person that Akasha ever really look up to is Akuti.

Both Aadinath and Akuti are regarded as Akasha’s bestfriend, especially Akuti. Although, one has to also remember that being the youngest in the group possess quite a lot of disadvantage. Akasha can still remember clearly when Aadinath lock her in the bathroom because she received a really bad mark in English subject. All she could do was cry for a good 15 minutes. It is also still fresh in Akasha’s mind when Akuti pushed her out of Akuti’s room because Akuti’s friends were coming over. But then, Akasha could only smile when looking back and continue to love her cousins.

4. What type of discipline was she subjected to at home? Strick? Lenient?

 When talking about discipline, one name will always pop out of Akasha’s head: Lata. Lata is his father’s older sister; Akasha’s aunt. Everytime Lata had the opportunity, she will always tried to teach Akasha something; be it about academics, be it about life in general.

Lata will always came to Akasha’s room, asking whether she already done her homework or not. Lata will continue to ask Akasha about tomorrow’s subjects while checking the homework page by page. Lata will later cook Akasha dinner, tell her to go downstairs and eat in the dining table, and once finished, to wash her own dish.

Sometimes, Akasha felt that Lata was being firm only to her, while to her kids – which is Aadinath and Akuti – she was extremely soft. At one night, at the age of just six, Akasha cried because she felt frustrated at his aunt. She lashed out on thin air, mumbling about what she had been feeling and how things should go the other way around.

But make no mistake, it was Lata’s orderliness that made Akasha a woman everyone shall desire.

5. Was she overprotected, did she feel rejection or affection as a child?

Upon asking whether Akasha was overprotected or ignored as a child, one has to take the middle ground. Akasha was ‘guarded’ – if one may use the word. It is also a matter of whose love and rejection are one talking about.

It is safe to say that Akasha never received the love that she deserved from her parents. The reason why Akasha feels that her father’s existence is not enough, is because his father’s ‘essence’ was never there. Her father is a schizophrenic. He is no longer available for casual social interaction, let alone producing the material conditions that Akasha needed. It is her that babysit her father during her whole life – from feeding him, to changing his clothes, to calming him when the panic strikes.

In one of his panic symptom, he screams to Akasha and said some nasty things to her. Of course, he did it without thinking or calculating the harm that the words could leave in Akasha. Again, she can only cry. “What have I done to you? What have I done to deserve this?”

Her mother? She’s happy with her new life after leaving Akasha’s father. Indeed, Akasha wants justice. Indeed, Akasha wants the life that every normal kid should have. But never she asked it to her mother knowing how imprudent her mother is.

The only thing near affection that she constantly receive comes from Lata. The one woman that she proudly called family.

6. What was the economic status of the family? Any adverse situations?

Akasha’s father has no job because of his conditions. Her mother is saving up only for her sole future, certainly not Akasha’s.

Akasha has been living under the same roof as her aunt, Lata. For years, Lata has been kind enough to treat Akasha and her father in her house. As for daily needs, education, entertainment, and anything in between, Akasha receives it from Lata’s family.

During Akasha’s younger years, she cannot recall any memory that pictures financial struggle in Lata’s family. Never once did she skip school because of economic reason. Well, the fact that she did not have an iPhone when it was cool, could not be seen as an indicator for a hard economic life. Akasha perceive it as a mere old-school tradition that Lata imprinted in her house.

But what was seen could not be concluded as the whole story. As a wise-man once said, never judge a book by its cover nor the first page. Because in fact, the year Akasha was born, was the year when Lata’s career started to head south. She lost her job as an actress because there was a massive influx of new young talents. The industry changed into more youth-centrist. Fortunately, she saved up just enough to support her dysfunctional family.

As for Lata’s son, his business is starting to grow. It is too early to tell whether it could support the family or not. It is also too early to tell whether he wants to support the family or not. Lata knows this, Akasha knows it better.

7. Divorce, illness, alcoholism, etc?

Akasha is still in Junior High School. She’s not yet married, do not yet have any illness, or even seen any type of alcohol. She does not even have a boyfriend (yet). But one thing that she loves is learning. And when it comes to History, she will dive deeper than any other kids.

Reading about her country’s struggle to overthrow imperialism, seeing news about the government’s war on drugs, and listening to Aadinath’s story about how flares are burnt and people are cheering for the country’s football team make Akasha thinks: “So, smoke does unite people”. A conclusion that no one ever saw it coming.

And so, she’s getting more and more curious about the habit of smoking cigarette among her friends.In her school, boys are starting to smoke as if they are Che Guevara. The boys make it look effortless and, thus, attractive at the same time. They suck every single smoke that their lungs could handle, blow them up, and look at Akasha straight to her face – and the sequence was played in slow-motion inside her mind.

And for her, it looks historical. And for her, the curiosity continues.

8. What was the religious atmosphere in her family? How does she feel about religion herself?

Lata is a very religious woman, and her husband is too. But they are both quite moderate, compared to the parents of Akasha’s friends. But, as moderate as they are, they still command Akasha to never abandon salat.

But, spending most of her childhood playing with Akuti means that Akasha will often follow what Akuti have done rather than following Lata’s command. And, as one can easily guess, Akuti is not very religious herself.

For Akuti, religion is about the exclusive relations between herself and God. That being said, she believes that she could pray anywhere she wants to, every time, no matter how. She wears veil, she prays during ramadhan, and she still believe in Islam. But she feels that she is on a quest to find a better meaning of her religion as time goes by. She got the understanding from Aadinath. And she is trying to pass it on to Akasha.

9. Is she smart, intelligent, slow witted?

Think of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. Now imagine her embodied in Akasha’s body, but locked in a secret chamber waiting for an earthquake to crush it and let her be free.

Akasha has always been a top-10 students in the class, ever since she sat on elementary school. She’s not the type of smart kids who can ace any test and quiz with ease. Akasha need a little bit more hard work than them. But she’s also not the one to slack-off, putting a blind-faith on their so-called ‘potentials’

Akasha is a perfect example of a bright kid that knows the value of education but not forgetting that there is world outside of school. Her experience on taking care of her father, living with her aunt’s family while constantly reminding herself that she’s an outsider, and seeing her under-age friends smoking once the school is finished have lead her to the realization that the world have so much to offer.

10. How did she do in school? What grade did she graduate (or drop out) from? How does she sees herself? Smart? Intelligent? Uneducated? How does her education and intelligence reflect in his speech pattern, vocabulary, and pronunciation?

Funny enough, the amount of knowledge Akasha possessed came from a perfectly balanced mixture of sitting in classrooms listening to her teacher, life struggle, and TV series. School shapes her logic, while family construct her manner, but it is TV series that help her to speak out.

Akasha was never a spoiled kid, carrying iPad everywhere she goes. She was never the Facebook generation, even though many academics will easily categorize her as a digital native. On her spare time, Akasha watches TV. Yup, those poorly-written TV series that on nightly basis lower the viewers IQ.

But Akasha never paid much attention on the story line. She never paid much attention to the cast and the location either. For her, the most important part is connecting scene by scene. For Akasha, it is important to connect the dots, pay attention to the dialogue, and guess where the cast might end up. It is the analytical process that matters the most.

One day, Akasha spoke to Lata to tell about a movie that she just watched. She remember every key moments of the movie that Aadinath had to watched it to prove Akasha’s story. And guess what? Aadinath kissed her on her forehead, right cheek, left cheek, nose, chin, and lips.

P.S.: There are still 18 questions left, but I can’t finish them off in one article. I’ll try to finish it some other time, but if not, it’s just me being me. Hope you enjoy this fantasy of mine.

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