battle of surabaya

Battle of Surabaya is an Indonesian-made animated film produced by MSV Pictures in cooperation with Yogyakarta-based IT college AMIKOM Yogyakarta. Adopting the wartime-setting just prior to the battle on November 10, 1945, Battle of Surabaya is a tale of the young courier Musa, encountering various dangers and notable persons to defend his nation.

Producing a full-length animated feature for the first time is no easy task for the studio. Yet, despite the obstacles they faced in last three years, MSV Pictures has managed to release the movie in August 20, 2015. One of the important elements that makes the finished product possible is the involvement of the voice actors and actresses in bringing the characters of the film to life with their performances.

KAORI Nusantara had a chance to interview Ian Saybani, the voice actor of Musa, and Novie Burhan, the voice actress of Musa’s mother. Both of them are not newcomers in the world of voice acting. They have been involved in so many dubbing projects that there are no doubts about their experience. For instance, Indonesian audience may have heard Novie Burhan’s voice in television shows such as Cardcaptor Sakura, Tazmanian Devil, Danny Phantom and the telenovela (Spanish/Portuguese speaking TV drama) Carita de Angel. Novie Burhan’s experiences is also a consideration for the studio to assign her as dubbing coordinator and director, aside from playing her role as Musa’s mother. Ian Saybani himself also has voiced many characters, including the  protagonist of Evangelion, Shinji Ikari in the second Rebuild of Evangelion film, and also Fuyuki Hinata in Keroro Gunsou (Sgt. Frog) the Super Movie. The two of them share their thoughts about Battle of Surabaya and the world of voice acting in Indonesia in general.11870685_1136798686347540_1467555760988079703_n

How does it feel to be involved in voice acting for Battle of Surabaya?

Novie Burhan (NB): I feel so happy, especially for performing in this movie that has been eagerly awaited for three years. (laughs)

Ian Saybani (IS): I am proud to have been involved in such a big project, and my gratitude to MSV Pictures and Amikom Yogyakarta for involving local voice actors. With this project, I hope local voice actors will be appreciated more by the public.

How is Battle of Surabaya in your opinion?

IS: Battle of Surabaya is a good attempt to introduce our nation’s history to children and teenager in a fun and different way.

NB: Every animator that gets involved [in making the film] is Indonesian. Therefore, they can have their names known because their name will be credited, unlike being involved in foreign movies that sometimes doesn’t give credit to our animator. Additionally, I hope that this movie can provide a local role model for our young generation, that can show that you don’t have to be a superhero to help people. Just be yourself and you can be a hero.


How did you get involved in Battle of Surabaya?

NB: MSV Pictures contacted us first and asking for professional voice actors to perform in Battle of Surabaya. Back in 2013, MSV Pictures still said that they want to utilize their own in-house talents, but in late 2014, we finally agreed to work together for this movie.

novie burhan
Novie Burhan

Can you tell us a bit about the process of voice acting for Battle of Surabaya?

NB: There was a casting stage first to find the actors and actresses that matched with the preference of MSV Pictures. In my case, I sent three voice samples of Musa’s voice to be selected by MSV Pictures. Vocal recording was done after they determined the suitable actors and actresses.

Did you find any obstacle or pressure while voice acting for Battle of Surabaya?

NB: We have done these kinds of work for many times, so we already get used to it.

IS: Yes, we have been used to these works. But the pressure came from the people who has been eagerly waiting for this movie for the last three years with such enthusiasm.

What differences did you find between dubbing for foreign characters and original characters?

NB: It is surely different. For instance, I couldn’t claim that the character I dubbed in a Disney movie or other foreign movie as my character because I only dubbed a previously voiced-over character. But when I acted as an original character, I was the first one to voice this character. If the character is to be dubbed in other languages such as Korean, English etc. they should follow the identity that we have set for the characters.

Novie Burhan with Reza Rahardian and Maudy Ayunda, two film actors that are also involved in this movie.

How did it feel working together with notable actors like Maudy Ayunda and Reza Rahadian?

NB: They are pretty cooperative, although there are some differences between acting for live action films and voice acting. In live action films, dubbing may be sometimes be used to fix a badly taken scene, but it is just a minor thing. In this movie, they have to fully dub the characters’ voice and imagine how the characters they voiced ought to sound like. Because Maudy had her first voice acting experience here, she often consulted with me on finding the correct voice for her character Yumna. I told her to gave her most modest and natural voice. Also, this is important to note for people who are interested in doing voice acting, when you sit in recording room, putting on your headphone, holding your script and the scene is played, you have to feel that the you are the character, not yourself, so your character’s voice would sound natural.

Battle of Surabaya seiyuu (left to right): Ian Saybani, Kamal Nasuti, Novie Burhan, Joy, & Hardi

Just like acting for a live action movie?

NB: Yes, but only with the voice.

Were there any interesting or funny experiences when you were voice-acting for Battle of Surabaya?

NB: There is this moment when Maudy had to laugh in her line. She had no idea how to do it she became nervous and asked some advice to me. There is also a character named Danu, who is a rather complex character because his moods often swings from happy to sad and then angry. Reza, as his voice-actor, was so perplexed that he said “Danu is such a mentally broken character.”

IS: At a certain sad scene, people in the whole room spontaneously cried. It must be a very emotional scene, I said to myself.

ian saybani
Ian Saybani


How do you hope the audience would respond after watching Battle of Surabaya?

NB: The tagline for the movie is “There is no glory in war”. Victory in a war itself is an abstract concept. Even if a war only claimed minor casualties, yet destroyed the country as a whole, could it be said to be a victory ? I believe not. I hope the message of the movie can be recognized across the world.

IS: We hope for our people to recognize and believe in the capabilities of our human resources to make an internationally acclaimed work.

NB: And I hope that local animators does not have to leave the country to find works any more, and for this movie to be a turning point in the awakening of local animation works.

Would you care to give an advice to those who are willing to be voice actors?

IS: Never stop trying and keep learning. In this digital era, everything can be easily accessed, including data about voice acting studios.

NB: God does not command us to always succeed all the time, but He commend us to never stop trying and keep on struggling.

Read our review for Battle of Surabaya in this link and in-depth analysis from our staff regarding the movie’s main theme in here.

KAORI Newsline | Interview by Luthfi Suryanda Atmojo, with translations by Daniel A.S.

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