‘I’m not that fat’: Actor playing him in new biopic jokes Ahok was ‘angry’ about bodysuit he used for role

L: Official inauguration photo of Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama as vice governor of Jakarta. R: Daniel Mananta playing Ahok in the film “A Man Called Ahok”

Actor Daniel Mananta has been getting some strong early buzz for his portrayal of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in the film A Man Called Ahok, which is hitting theaters in Indonesia this Thursday. As seen in the trailer for the movie, the actor seems to do an impressive job affecting Ahok’s voice and mannerisms.

Mananta says he prepared extensively for the role by studying videos of Ahok, but the actor, well-known for his stints as a telegenic MTV VJ and TV presenter, also faced the challenge of looking the part by emulating Ahok’s, ahem, bulkier frame. Mananta says that he in fact gained six kilos for the role but to properly match the former governor’s slightly rotund midsection, he admits that he had to use a body suit.

The actor says he met with Ahok in the Mako Brimob detention facility — where he is currently serving out the two-year prison sentence for blasphemy that he received at the end of his highly controversial blasphemy trial — in order to get the imprisoned politician’s input on the film and his performance. During one of those visits, Mananta came dressed up in his full Ahok outfit, complete with body suit, so the real Ahok could see what he’d look like on-screen.

“I happened to go to Mako Brimob to meet Pak Ahok while wearing the bodysuit. Pak Ahok saw me and he got angry, saying ‘Are you wearing a bodysuit? This is insulting, I’m not that fat.’ He was angry, man!” Daniel jokingly told Antara following a press screening for the movie in Jakarta yesterday.

Despite supposedly being upset over how his belly is being portrayed on the big screen (Ahok is said to have been working out a lot and gotten a macho body in prison, to be fair), the politician and those close to him have been supportive of the film as it is based on a book of the same name by Rudi Valinka, a staunch supporter of Ahok and President Joko Widodo’s government. The book is a collection of tweets by Rudi as he explores Ahok’s hometown of East Belitung to learn about his upbringing and what shaped his character.

This film apparently doesn’t touch on any of the controversy surrounding Ahok’s time as governor of Jakarta nor the hardliner-led protest movement against him that led to his loss in the 2016 election and his eventual imprisonment. Instead, it focuses mainly on Ahok’s childhood, his relationship with his father and how that shaped his early political career.

A Man Called Ahok is set to be released in local theaters this Thursday. Ahok the man is set to be released from prison in January of next year.

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