By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul
AS THAIS continue to grieve over the loss of their much-revered monarch, television viewers all over the world are about to learn what made His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej so very special to his subjects and why he will live on in their hearts forever.
The global tribute is being made possible by JKN Global Media, Thailand’s leading content management and distribution company, which is collaborating with American cable and satellite television channel History in a documentary that focuses on his life and work.
Titled “King Bhumibol of Thailand: The People’s King” (“Nai Luang Nai Duangjai” in Thai), the documentary is, in essence, a history of modern-day Thailand.
“People all over the world will watch this documentary and join us as we mourn our beloved King,” says JKN Global Media’s chief executive Jakaphong Jakrajutatip.
“It is an inspiring story that everyone should see and a lesson about life for every family. ‘The People’s King’ will allow us as Thais to better understand ourselves while helping foreign viewers to understand the Thai people.”
The documentary is being produced to mark the 30-day anniversary of the Monarch’s death. It will be in English with a Thai voice-over narrated by distinguished film director and actor Noppol Gomarachun. The soundtrack features “Nai Luang Nai Duangjai” sung by Thai-American vocalist Amita Tata Young, which was one of the tracks recorded for the album, “Ton Mai Khong Phor” (“Father’s Tree”), to pay tribute to the King on the 50th anniversary of his reign. The song was written and composed by Kamolsak Sunthanon and Piti Limcharoen, and originally sung by superstar Thongchai “Bird” McIntyre.
“Throughout my career in the entertainment business, I often wondered whether I would have the chance to be part of a film showing His Majesty the King’s projects, either as an actor or as a director,” says the 63-year-old Noppol.
“But it never happened. So when I got a call from Jakaphong asking me to do the Thai voice-over for this documentary, I jumped at the chance. It will be the first and last time in my life to do something for the King,” an emotional Noppol told the media during the recent press conference at the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok.
“I sat in front of the TV monitor and read the script, as the documentary was showing. I knew I had to do my very best. Whether the King will see this documentary from heaven, only God knows. I have put my heart and soul into this piece,” he added.
“The first time that I had a chance to sing for His Majesty was as a representative of all the Thai people taking part in the 13th Asian Games in 1998. That song was ‘Reach for the Stars’ and it was one of my greatest performances. And last year, when I sang ‘Nai Luang Nai Duangjai’, the King was still alive,” Tata said, her eyes brimming with tears.
“It is harder to sing this song now, after the passing of the King. But it is a tremendous honour to be asked to sing it again as a soundtrack for the documentary, which will be watched by viewers all over the world. I am so glad people will learn about what the King did for the Thai people.
“I’m very proud to a small part of this documentary, which reflects the appreciation of the Thai people, including my son Nong Ray, for the benevolence of the King, his work and his guidance. I used always to be asked by the international media when I was promoting my albums whether I was Thai or American. I would reply that I was 100-per-cent Thai and a 100-per-cent American. But I’m most proud to be Thai and to have the best King,” she said.
The documentary is receiving truly global exposure, with the broadcast going out to more than 180 countries over six continents, potentially reaching an audience of more than six billion.
Here in Thailand it premieres on History HD (TrueVisions Channel 556) tomorrow at 9pm with a further screening on December 3, also at 9pm. On December 5 at 9pm, it will be aired across Asia and Australia and, on December 10 at 9pm, it will be shown through Thailand’s 22 digital TV channels.
“The screening time has to be 9pm because the ‘9’ means King Rama IX. Moreover, 9pm is considered primetime for all those channels, which have united to take part in this global tribute,” says Jakaphong.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime cooperation in public broadcasting among the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, especially India and China, which have a joint population of more than four billion.”
“For the last 30 days, all television channels have united to present documentaries and programmes about the King covering everything from his childhood to his duties and his projects. So I thought why not present one hour every day so that people know about and appreciate the King’s 4,000 projects. The government should publish a book about all these projects. I believe it would be the greatest textbook for the generations to come. And this hour will be so very valuable to the next generation,” says Noppol.
TUNE IN TO TV
- The “King Bhumibol of Thailand: The People’s King” global tribute will be broadcast on History Channel (TrueVisions Channel 556) on November 13 at 9pm and again on December 3.
- On December 5 at 9pm, it will be aired on Sony Entertainment Television, Zee TV, GMA, CCTV and TGN (Thai TV Global Network).
- On December 10 at 9pm, it will be aired on all digital TV channels, namely 3, 5, 7, 9, Thai PBS, NBT, True4U, TNN 24, Nation, Channel 8, GMM 25, Mono 29, New TV 18, One 31, Workpoint, Now 26, Amarin 34, PPTV, Spring News and Voice TV.