Wregas Bhanuteja’s directorial feature debut ‘Photocopier’ is a movie that not only deals with crime and the mystery surrounding it, it also boldly plays with the moral spectrum. When Sur’s scholarship is rescinded following a night of wild partying, as is evident on her social media, she works with her photocopier friend Amin to unravel what actually transpired on the night of the theatre department’s party. Not only does she ruffle more than a few feathers along the way, but she also learns some rather alarming truths about people she considered her friends.
Also known as ‘Penyalin Cahaya,’ the movie is not the tautest thriller to have ever been conceived, but that is where its beauty lies. As it progresses, one can’t help but feel Sur’s plight every step of the way. Could this feat have been achieved, in part, because the plot is inspired by real events? Well, this is what we know regarding the same.
Is Photocopier a True Story?
No, ‘Photocopier’ is not based on a true story. The tech thriller revolves around the diligent Sur, who must now revisit the events of the night that the Mata Hari production company was celebrating a prize-winning play. On her journey, she opens Pandora’s box and discovers that not everyone is who they seem to be. In a way, even though the movie is billed as a crime drama, it also acts as a quasi-coming of age tale for the protagonist, who has to undertake painstaking efforts just to find out the truth and sheds her own innocence in the process.
The plot encompasses themes of sexual assault, mental health, religion, and friendships. But it becomes clear that no single incident has given rise to the narrative. After all, incidents of abuse are rampant all over the world, and Indonesia is not particularly shielded from this. In fact, according to a 2016 report, more than 90% of rape cases in the country went unreported primarily because of victim-blaming. Moreover, according to a 2019 study, it ranked as the second most dangerous country for women in the Asia Pacific region.
It is likely that the writers looked at the issue prevalent in their region and told it through the point of view of a college student to further highlight societal woes and strike an emotional chord. In fact, this story seems to be the brainchild of the director, along with Henricus Pria, who has since been uncredited due to allegations of sexual assault being levied against him. Nonetheless, what we do know is Bhanuteja and his team carried out diligent research for a year and even reached out to victims of sexual abuse and anti-rape activists such as Hannah Al Rashid.
Another important theme that the movie delves into is that of family. In an interview, the director spoke of how people could try to shield the perpetrator of a crime similar to Rama’s in real life because of the sense of “belonging” or “family.” This also ties in with the fact that not many people believe Sur’s side of the story, especially the collegiate faculty. In fact, even Sur’s own father does not believe her and constantly apologizes for his daughter’s actions, even without knowing the whole story. By doing so, Bhanuteja not only strives to properly represent the challenges that survivors of sexual abuse face, but he also helps educate others on the topic.
Thus, ‘Photocopier’ seeks to highlight an extremely prevalent issue in society today, and it does so by making the viewers invest in the protagonist holistically. The plot makes you care as much about Sur’s allegations as Rama’s initial and apparent innocence, and it leaves you with a whole lot to ponder over. Despite being a fictional story, most people may relate to a few (or a lot) of moments throughout the film because it makes a seething point using common events.
Read More: Photocopier Ending, Explained