Amusing ideas continue to filter through the 50th-anniversary celebrations for the Communication Arts Faculty at Chulalongkorn University. Saturday brought an evening of speeches called “Kui plad 5x10”, as if it were a 5x10 relay race. Ten outstanding alumni shared the stage, speaking in turn for five minutes, recalling fond memories. The event at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel drew another “who’s who” from the media and show business.
Actor Chantavit “Ter” Dhanasevi (37th graduating batch) went first, aided and abetted by a slideshow illustrating his path from shy boyhood to screen darling. “It was Nitade that made me the Ter of today,” he said, referring to the faculty by its Thai name.
Like most freshies, he’d been forced to dress up in bizarre outfits and do embarrassing dances to entertain the upperclassmen.
“At some point my shyness just melted away, and I discovered it made me happy to see people laughing at me acting the fool,” he said. “I started thinking about becoming a comedian!”
There was unwavering consensus that those student years were solid career grooming.
Veteran Thai Rath columnist Santi “Typhoon” Wiriyarangsarit (fifth batch) said his old teachers’ admonishments to behave responsibility stuck with him throughout his 39 years at the newspaper. “We might have been nothing more than ducklings back then – unable to either swim or fly – but we were still important, our ajarn told us, because we were ‘social engineers’ and we always had to stick to ethics and live up to our social responsibility.”
Yuthana “Pa Ted” Boonorm (22nd batch) wondered aloud how so many of the alumni had become so adept at organising concerts and other public events when there was no such subject in the curriculum.
Actress-TV host Panisara “Opal” Primpru Arayasakul (36th batch) had to quickly inform everyone that she was pregnant – not suddenly fat – which brought a roar of laughter. Then she remembered a senior warning her, when she first got into show business, about being careful with her money. “No one in the business would give you honest advice like that. Showbiz is full of insincerity, but people from Nitade always see you as a sister.”
Another senior, a male, steered her clear of a performer she’d fallen for. “He’d kept me in ‘standby mode’ for a long time”, so the protective schoolmate went after him: “She’s my sister and you’d better not be playing around with her!” If not for that intervention, Opal said, she wouldn’t have the devoted doctor-husband she has today.
Jira Maligool of film studio GTH (15th batch) evoked giggles at the faculty’s expense with a prop he’d brought along – a lamp he’d made using an old can of Ovaltine. “This is what Pa Aum [Professor Cha-um Prasertsakul] left us,” Jira explained. “I’ll never forget him telling us that ‘a film happens when there is film, a camera and lighting’.”
But Jira had nothing but fond praise for his former teacher, who told him to always keep the focus on creativity. It’s not hard to imagine that, without Nitade, there’d be far fewer fun movies and TV series to watch and a lot less talent around.