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Meet Mekhala: Beauty queen Oam gets to kiss the cobra

May 27. 2015
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By ntsoopsip@gmail.com

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Filmmaker ML Bandevanop "Mom Noi" Devakul has finally chosen the lead actress for his remake of "Mae Bia".
Selected for the challenging role of Mekhala is a rookie in the business but a beauty to be sure – Miss Thailand World 2009 second runner-up Karnpithchar “Oam” Katemanee.
It’s a role that has always bestowed stardom on the actresses who’ve played it, among them Passorn Bunyakiat and Napakprapha “Mamee” Nakprasert.
Mom Noi believes Oam is perfect for the part because she looks just like the character described in the original novel by the late Vanich Jarungkit-anant. She has the face and darker skin typical of Siamese women of a bygone era and at the same time she has those “modern and mysterious” aspects that set Mekhala’s personality apart. 
But what really sold the director on Oam was her eyes – powerful and mystical – just the sort of eyes you would expect of someone who maintains a strange relationship with a deadly cobra. 
In a story that’s been told and retold in films, on TV and in a stage musical, Chanachol (to be portrayed on the big screen this time by Shahkrit Yamnam) returns home after a long spell overseas. He signs up for a tour to get reacquainted with the culture and falls in love with the guide, Mekhala.
Unlike many beauty queens who jump straight into show business, Oam didn’t pursue cinematic fame right away, although it must be noted that “Mae Bia” isn’t her film debut. 
She also appears in historical action epic “Khun Phan”, starring Ananda Everingham and Krissda Sukosol Clapp, but that picture still hasn’t been released two years after production began. A slew of delays have mired it, with the release date this year indefinitely postponed.
Finger crossed that “Mae Bia” faces no such upsets and will hit theatres on schedule next October 8. Shahkrit says there’ll be separate versions for the domestic and overseas markets.
TV too small for “Norasingh”
MC Chatrichalerm “Than Mui” Yukol – the director behind the epic film “The Legend of King Naresuan” – has apparently decided that his latest project, “Pantai Norasingh”, is too big for TV, as intended, so he’s withdrawn it from Channel 3 and re-edited the episodes into a feature-length movie.
Another famous story from the Ayutthaya Period, it’s about Sanpetch, the Tiger King (played by “Naresuan” himself, Lt-Colonel Wanchana Sawasdee) and his servant Sin (Pongsakorn “Toey” Mettarikanon). Sin is the “Pantai Norasingh” on the royal barge, which means he steers the rudder, but he loses control in a swift current and breaks the bow against a tree. 
The penalty for putting the king’s life in danger is death, but of course Sanpetch knows it was an accident and forgives him. Nevertheless, Sin insists on paying the ultimate price for his ineptitude, arguing that to make an exception would undermine public respect for the law. He is indeed executed, but the king builds a shrine in his honour, where the snapped-off bow of the barge is ritually installed.
Than Mui finished the series more than a year ago but then wasn’t pleased that Channel 3 was mulling a 6.30pm broadcast slot to reach younger viewers instead of primetime. Viewers who tune in then expect higher production values, and that’s what he had to offer.
The discussion went quiet until Wanchana recently revealed that Than Mui was turning the series into a movie, though Wanchana didn’t know the exact reason. If that’s the case, since Channel 3 paid for it, Than Mui will have had to buy it back.

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