Dian Sastrowardoyo has played the character of Dasiyah in the mini-series Cigarette Girl streaming on Netflix. The actor has done justice to the character, which can also be compared to other strong female characters like Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, and others. Dasiyah’s feminine aura is enough to threaten the mental peace of the men around her. Her independent nature makes her stand out from the other women in the series. Is the character able to attain the fame that she deserves as a flavor maker? Will her tragic life send out a message to us? There are many questions that are answered by the directors, Kamila Andini and Ifa Isfansyah, through the character of Dasiyah in the series.
How Ambitious Was Dasiyah?
Dasiyah has been portrayed as a very ambitious character who dreams of becoming one of the most famous flavor-makers in her city. Sky’s the limit for her dreams! In a monologue, she explains how she felt alone in a crowd of other people and how her thoughts were different from those of others. It is seen how she employs many women in her father’s cigarette factory, trying to make them feel liberated. She took an interest in her father’s business, unlike her sister, Rukiyah, who was more into household chores. On the contrary, when Dasiyah is being taught household chores by others before her marriage, she is unable to concentrate and looks out at the cigarette factory. She had the urge to go inside the blue flavor-making room, as she was not allowed by the flavor maker, Dibjo, to come inside. He was of the opinion that if women entered the flavor-making room, they would turn its flavor sour and ruin it. The talent of women during the 1970s’ was not appreciated by the masculine segment of traditional society. Dasiyah was, however, determined to enter that room and experiment with new flavors. She also had exceptional business skills, which ensured that there were greater profit margins. The people who were threatened by her aura said that she was too old for marriage and that she should be married off at that age. The insecurities of the people that they tried to impose on Dasiyah could not crush her invincible spirit.
What Tragedies Did Dasiyah Face?
There was an immediate liking that Dasiyah had taken to Soeraja when she first saw him on the streets. She said that she had never seen any man look at her the way Raja did. A deep bond between Raja and Dasiyah blossomed during his stay with the Idroes family. As the couple overcomes obstacles and seeks permission from her parents for the marriage, a tragedy befalls her. The national army attacks the Idroes family, killing Dasiyah’s father and taking her hostage. The attack had been conducted as a result of Raja’s business with the members of the communist party in dealing with the Red cigarettes. After 2 years, she is released, comes back, and gets to know that Raja is about to marry Purwanti, her sister’s friend. She also learned that her cigarette recipe had been stolen by Raja and sold to Djaged to become his partner in business. It is tragic how Dasiyah had been waiting to reunite with Raja during her captivity. On the other hand, Raja had forgotten her and had started living a luxurious life by getting engaged to Purwanti. She had asked Raja to rejoin her business so that they could start from scratch, but he refused to leave behind his already-established empire and go with her. The betrayal leaves Dasiyah heartbroken and shakes her belief in love, and Seno Aji eventually supports her.
Why Does She Initially Refuse To Marry Seno Aji?
Blinded by Raja’s love, Dasiyah failed to recognize the affection that Seno Aji had for her. She takes the decision to refuse Seno Aji’s hand in marriage because she thinks that she would lead a better life with Raja. This proves that she was not interested in materialistic things, as Raja did not have any fortunes at that point, but marrying Seno could have profited her family business. Dasiyah is seen to become extremely upset, and her heart gets burdened at the thought of marrying a man that she is not in love with. Even after she rejects Seno, he looks out for her and warns Raja that if he were to bring any peril upon Dasiyah after marriage, he would not spare him. However, after facing heartbreak, Dasiyah and her family are supported by Seno Aji. She had initially failed to understand the depth of his love for her, but upon realizing it later, she married him. It could therefore be said that Dasiyah, despite making good decisions in business, was a bad decision-maker in her personal life. She had to suffer a lot as a result of her selection of Raja over Seno Aji.
Was Arum Much Like Her Mother?
Arum finds out through a series of letters about her aunt Dasiyah, whose identity had been hidden from her by her mother, Rukiyah. She, however, later finds out that Dasiyah is not her aunt but is her mother, and Rukiyah, her aunt, had adopted her while she was just a baby. From the very beginning, we notice that her personality is a lot like Dasiyah. Despite having a feminine softness, she has a strong will and determination, enough to oust a fragile male ego. She does not open up to Lebas easily initially, but as time goes by and she starts believing him, she also starts relying on him. This is quite similar to how Dasiyah had slowly started relying on Raja after he proved himself befitting. Arum is independent, and we see a part of Dasiyah in her. In the beginning, we are left thinking that Arum has taken after her aunt, but when her real identity is revealed to us, the puzzle gets resolved.
The strong-willed woman that Dasiyah is leaves us all awe-stricken. Despite facing a lot of hardships and enduring how people looked down upon her all her life, she did not give up on her passion. She was determined to stick to her dreams and start from scratch, no matter how many times her luck was overturned. She did not have a capitalistic mindset and did not work for huge profit margins. She looked at her work from an artistic angle and never stopped experimenting with new flavors. The tragic massacre of her family due to the illegal activities of Raja and her setback in love were the major reasons why she could not excel in her career despite being loaded with talent. The character is only about giving selflessly without receiving much in return. She had chosen love over anything else and had been betrayed. Had she chosen herself and her family business over everything else, her state would not have been as miserable. Her ambitions were clipped by the traditional stigmas that were associated with being a woman during those times. The acting in the series is something worth mentioning.