"Comedy Drama of Love and Life" Book Review: Koala Kumal by Raditya Dika


Koala Kumal has both enchanting story-telling and ability to lull its readers

Koala Kumal by Raditya Dika
Published by: Gagas Media on January, 10 2015.
Genres: Non fiction, Romance, Comedy.
Pages: 280.

Raditya Dika, a multi-talented young man, a best-seller book author and creativepreneur, marked his comeback once again through his seventh book, "Koala Kumal," a collection book of comedy stories. Succeeding in pioneering comedy genre in the book industry, Dika set-up a new market for book by adopting a student’s personal blog as the gimmick. The next great success that was a real eye-opener in the book industry is the fact that comedy books could be widely accepted by readers in Indonesia. It brought a tremendous success that the book was being reprinted multi-times. Currently, other than playing some roles in movies (Cinta dalam Kardus, Cinta Brontosaurus, and Manusia Setengah Salmon) and as the actor behind the popular YouTube series "Malam Minggu Miko", which is also aired on Kompas TV, Dika is also a famous stand-up veteran comedian in Indonesia. For both his old and new readers, his piece of work has always been tempting to read, thanks to his brilliant skill and style in presenting comedy with a heart.

Raditya Dika. (twitter)

A famous American poet and author, Maya Angelou, once said, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Koala Kumal knows exactly how to make readers feel the life’s sweet and bitter nostalgia. Reading it is like watching life dramas that many of us would easily relate to. In this book, Dika talked casually about the everyday life of most young people in their career and romance. The stories in Koala Kumal are narration of the character’s (the author) life journey from his childhood to adulthood and are developed comically, imprinting powerful impression in its readers’ heart. Sweta Kartika, a talented illustrator (his latest work was Nusantaranger), helped carving the book into a livelier narration. Sweta with his signature style managed to accurately translate the plot into comic strip that serves beyond mere amusement for the book.

All of us must own unforgettable childhood memory; some of which were probably the most wonderful memories in our lives. In this phase, we changed into a grown-up and often faced problems or lessons that we needed to learn. This is what Dika adapted in Ada Jangwe di Kepalaku, which is quite a classy opening. In this section, Dika told about his childhood as a typical homebody, who loved to stay home and play console game. Once he lied to his mother saying he attended tarawih (prayer in the mosque during Ramadan) with his two buddies, Bahri and Dodo, while he was actually playing firecracker war with the kids from the next block. He didn’t realize that playing firecrackers was a dangerous thing, until Bahri burned his hand. This style of plotting the story has been quite popular among his fans, and he wanted his readers to experience it again. After studying comedy more intensely now, Raditya Dika has acquired better structured writing style, in which case never fails to crack readers up with every punch line inserted at the end of every story in this book. 

Cinta Brontosaurus (officialfilmindonesia.com)

Another good laugh is found when Dika talked about his parents, who are of his greatest inspiration behind every creative process in his movie-making. Tips on developing funny scenes in Cinta Brontosaurus movie were collected and written in Ingatlah Ini Sebelum Bikin Film.

The book will not be complete, certainly, without Dika discussing about young people romance. What men commonly face in their love life was hilariously written and discussed in Panduan Cowok dalam Menghadapi Penolakan. In this part, Dika gave shame-proof tricks to exercise when being turned down by your crush, or if she says no when you ask her to a movie, etc. Other hilarious story, which is quite Raditya Dika’s typicality, is when he playfully searched for a date through a popular dating application when he was on job in Thailand, which can be read in LB

Fans of the TV series, Malam Minggu Miko, would not want to miss Menciptakan Miko, where Dika told about the beginning of his debut as a director and in MMM’s behind the scenes. Raditya Dika admitted that much of his work was born out of his own agitation. In the end of 2010, concerned about the stagnant quality of the TV programs, Dika was inspired to create his own, and the rest is history. Dika successfully started the production of MMM from zero to one of the most viewed program in Indonesia. Not only did the series capture the attention of ordinary people, but even Ahok, the Governor of DKI, spent time watching it between his tight schedules.


As the most favored figure among teenagers, Dika could be a good role model for many of his fans. Koala Kumal is Dika’s implicit way of inspiring young people with tons of ideas to develop their potentials in creative economy sector. Dika proved himself that despite lacking of experience in producing film, his creative and original ideas are magnets for investors to fund his idealist projects.

Dika admitted that the most impressive story for him is the Patah Hati Terhebat, where he was literally put in a friend-zone situation by Trisna. As her friend, Dika listened to Trisna’s stories about her love life, which ended up rather miserably. This way Dika wanted to say that getting your heart broken may change you. It may turn you into a mature-minded person or else it may ruin your ability to love someone else and move on in life. 

Once in the while, each of us will experience a heartbreak that changes how we see love for the rest of our lives. The heartbreak will make us seeing love differently. (P 207)

Koala (koalaland.com.au)

As a sweet closing, Dika told a story of him growing-up and becoming a mature-minded person after numerous heartbreaks. A dirty koala Dika had once seen in the Huffington Post website inspired the title for this new book. It was a picture of koala migrating from the New South Wales forest, Australia, perching with a gloomy and confused look at the sight of its drastically transformed habitat. The once familiar things are now unknown. Likewise what Dika has encountered himself. After his falling and heartbreaking, the girl turned to be a total stranger.

As if watching Hollywood movies (I’m thinking of Mr. Bean Holiday), after the captivating first-class scenes, the story ends with contemplative conclusion and gloomy twist of it. Throughout the story, it tries to induce readers to feel things and troubles commonly occur in a relationship. Dika wanted his readers to understand that the unpleasant experiences may force anyone into early maturity. This is the lesson the authors adapted that set this book apart from the former ones. Koala Kumal has both enchanting story-telling and ability to lull its readers. Although a bit melodramatic, the agitation Dika is trying to reveal has been successfully conveyed in the book, and this could motivate readers to put on a brave face on the same problems in real life.

*Translated by Selviya Hanna.* 
HPI Member.


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