Perhan Rusten, a Gypsy, now 19 years old, is our first kid sold to steal for the “owner”. He lives in Skopje now, after 4 years in juvenile correction facility, barefooted and naked, as when he was taken to Italy as a seven year old boy. Although a kid, he quickly became a “theft champion in Italy” and his owners, relatives, who were selling him during those eight years of his hard life, became rich, and they built houses from the gold that Perhan had stolen from the wealthy Italian houses.
And there he was, on the street again, having nothing of his own, with his own skin he confirms that old gypsy saying “a gypsy has two hands, one for taking and another for giving and nothing is ever left to him”. Rustem’s life story inspired our most famous movie director, Emir Kusturica, to make the movie “The Time of the Gypsies”, the creation everybody is talking about and which is made of reality, visions and dreams. The leading part, a part of a gypsy boy Perhan, Kusturica has given to amateur actor Davor Dujmovic, 19 year old boy who already played in the famous movie “When father was away for business” and Materic’s “The Magpie Strategy”.
A real occasion for conversation with Dujmovic was actually the world premiere of the movie “The time of the Gypsies”, when it reached its culmination, encouraged by the best results from the competent people and with discovery, that such movie spectacle is being held in Sarajevo. All “eyes” were on the “Skenderija” where this movie reception was being prepared, just like in Hollywood, and all the conversation in Sarajevo were ending with the question “Will you go and see “The time of the Gypsies”? And there was not a sign of Davor Dujmovic!
We dialed numbers, fearing of not reaching him, because we already heard that he managed to escape the arranged interview with television. We found him, but thanks to kindness and efforts of friends from the producing company “Forum”. “Fine, but if auntie Andja didn’t ask me…-finally he confirmed his arrival. In the foggy, cold evening in Sarajevo, we waited for Dujmovic at “Obala”. We were freezing but we were looking forward to the shadow that was approaching us through the fog, at the arranged time.
Is that you Davor?
No, it’s you!
It was the typical answer of people from Sarajevo, which breaks all barriers in contact with the unknown persons and which was so appropriate for Davor’s age and type of a person he is. Young, simple looking man with even simpler attitude, dressed in jeans, almost sloppy, shirt and leather “driver’s” jacket in which he slides up to ears. “It will not take a long time, right? I have to go buy used winter tires for “Fico”, from my pal…”
We started the conversation confused and for a long time we didn’t manage to get on the same “wave” with Davor. And then, all of a sudden, he relaxed, even started chatting and his eyes, still eyes of a boy, started wondering off, searching for memories. He said many things and, a bit shy, he made us guess the rest. And we started from the beginning, from 1983 when Kusturica, searching for the actor for the character of older child of family Malkoc in the movie “When father was away for business”, spotted him in the restaurant in Sarajevo
“Of course I said yes immediately. How wouldn’t I… I was only thirteen and that’s the age when you can’t decide if you are going to be a pilot or astronaut, and the movie? That is even more attractive.” The success of the movie “When father was away for business” did not make an influence on Davor’s private life later on. Soon after that he gets the part in the movie “The Magpie Strategy” and during the shooting of this movie, he overhears from the driver that Kusturica is planning on giving him leading part in another movie.
Were you overwhelmed?
Yes, I admit I was, but I didn’t believe it!
He went to Skopje, for probation shooting anyway, where he successfully eliminated all possible rivals. Davor became Perhan. First days spent in gypsy settlement “Sutka” have made deep impressions on him. It is hard not to, since, it has been assumed, around 40.000 gypsies live there, mainly poor, so unusually happy in their misfortune.
Were you afraid preparing for such a big part?
“Only at first, after that everything went gradually. And when the shooting was prolonged from 3 estimated into 9 months, it seemed to me like there’s no ending. And now I would give everything to go back even to the hardest day of shooting.
Did you see your work as a real job, fun or…?
More as a huge commitment, but the one you have to your friend. In the morning, when I needed to get up at six o’clock to do make-up and I went to bed at three, it was hard. Nobody would criticize me or write a complaint, but… what would they think of me? That’s what I asked myself and I got up each time.” – Davor Dujmovic admitted that he tried his best, but that is not why he felt bad, because he knew that everybody is trying their best too.
But still, couple of times he wanted to go home and to end everything. During the nine months (the shooting started at +40 degrees and some scenes were taken on -10 degrees, in water, in his underwear), he had only three days off. The rest, he spent in front of the camera.
How it’s like to work with Kusturica, we wanted to know. How it happens that he takes the best out of the amateur, so that the whole world admires him later?
I never sat and discussed acting with him. He doesn’t make things complicated, so you get the impression that it’s not about acting but about living. When I do something, he gives me a suggestion like: this should be done in this way, that thing that you did was good, you should be a bit louder there, etc. That’s exactly what I like about him, that simplicity.
And does he ever get angry?
Weeell, he does…, he does indeed. Since my every day out of those nine months wasn’t the best and they couldn’t be, he would get upset.
And when you did something good, did he show it to you?
No, he didn’t. Probably not to show me that it was good so that I might stop trying to do it even better, to go deeper. He never said: “This is good”, or “Congratulations”! – Davor gets silent for a while and then when he remembers something about how he managed to reach to Kusta, he gives an example.
“We were shooting a scene in grandma’s house, one tough scene with the fight with my uncle after I got back from Italy and found Azra pregnant because he raped her. Not to go much in the details, I shout at him, he cries… and everything happens “in the air”. House is, however, pulled up by the crane, and I did it in my anger, the way as uncle used to do. Tough scene, touchy… In one moment, I saw from above all the crew and lots of gypsies from the village that were always around us, making terrible noise, but this time, I didn’t hear anything, only approving silence.
You could hear a fly and Kusta started to cry. I knew it was good.” -When we asked him if he was treated as the leading actor, Davor, a bit angry, says: “No, they didn’t”! And then, just to make things clear, explains how everything turned out well just because nobody was IN CHARGE! Why would Davor then wanted to be the one? Out of this 20 year old modest young man, a small boy appears very often. He is like a small boy when he talks about the time when he enrolled himself into 5-6 different schools and then completed the worse one! He attended one year in Bosanska Krupa, where they were shooting some scenes at the time: “It wasn’t fixed for me, I swear to God, I really sat and studied.” We find out that he also completed the basic Music school, accordion and piano section and then started attending the high school where he played a fagot.
He just completed first year of this high school. “I used to be the best student, got a bit bad and at the end I became the worse. Later I got serious again.” –He is childish even when he speaks about their travels, how they visited Rome “even three times”. “We came to like it, ha, ha…” or when he says about Sinolicka Trpkova, the beautiful actress from the movie: “She is hot”! Anyway, Davor Dujmovic captures with his cuteness. The money, he says, is not the reason why he is doing all this. Whatever he earned so far is gone, “as if he never had it in the first place”. He kept eight year old car “fico”, which he bought from Kusta. “But I got the gear shift for free”!!
After we took a couple of photographs, we went for a ride in “fico” with fear. We came to the “Alipasino polje”, Sarajevo settlement, where Davor lives, but in fact, we were more sliding then driving because, as he said, he still needed to buy winter tires. “This is the music I listen, Dujmovic says and plays the music of the band “Zabranjeno pusenje” – (No Smoking) and then underneath the ashtray, we also see a “No smoking” sign– Is this a commercial or for real? “Take it as you want”, Davor says and drives off, who knows where…