By The Nation
Since losing her sight in 1981, veteran actress Petchara Chaowarat has remained largely out of the public eye. A major star in the ‘60s and ’70s, she started her career in 1962 and became known for her repeated roles opposite late actor Mitr Chaibancha, with the acting duo widely referred to as Mitr-Petchara.
And so it came as a major surprise when she was named National Artist 2019 and says she is overwhelmed that people still recognise her.
“Thanks to everyone for your love and for remembering me, a totally blind actress. I wasn’t sure if I would be considered because I haven’t performed for a long time and I didn’t know the rules for qualification. I still don’t know how can contribute since I am blind,” says the 77-year-old actress, whose eyes were badly affected by the overly strong lighting on the sets.
Born Eak Chaowarat, Petchara and actor/singer Charin Nantanakorn started dating during her years as a superstar but were forced to keep their relationship a secret as her fan club didn't approve. Charin had no such problems and his fan club recently posted a party to congratulate Petchara on her National Artist award at Nathong restaurant. The couple’s old friends and colleagues including actors Sombat Methanee and Busara Narumit, singer national artist Suthep Wongkamhaeng and songwriter national artist Charlie Intravijit all turned out for the event.
Charin surprised his beloved wife by singing the immortal song "Yard Petch" (“Drops of Diamonds”), a number long associated with the singer and one which he has been singing since falling in love with her. The couple also opened up about their life together.
“We live the same way as we have always lived. I don't know if there is any secret behind it. It’s just the way it’s always been,” Petchara said.
Charin agreed. “For us, every day is like the beginning of our love. We don’t like for flaws in each other. And if she doesn't like a certain behaviour, I simply avoid doing it,” says the 87-year old singer.
“I might not be able to see him but I can picture him in my mind. He’s the same guy I met on that first day,” adds the actress.
“The most memorable moment for me is when she hugged me and rested her face on my chest, saying 'dear...I can’t see you anymore. I will never ever see things again'. That was so hard for both of us,” says Charin of the day his wife realized she would never see again. She replied ‘Don’t say it like that, dear. Just don’t’.”
The couple in fact had time to prepare for that day but it still came too soon. “I knew I needed to look out for her, especially as the house we were in at the time had a swimming pool. She can’t swim and I was terrified she would fall in. The longer we live together, the more understand each other. We are still very much in love,” he says.
Petchara has the last word. “Thanks to all those who welcome me everywhere I go, at every concert my husband performs. I remember all the hugs, all the caring enquiries about my life,” says the veteran actress who used the occasion of the party to donate Bt90,100 raised by Charin’s fan club to the foundation for the school for the blind at Lop Buri.
Charin will be performing at the “Charin In Concert No 18, The Land of Love” on August 3-4 at 2pm at Thailand Cultural Centre and Petchara, who selected many of the songs, will be there too.
Tickets costing from Bt500 to Bt3,000 are now on sale at ThaiTicketmajor.com. Part of the proceeds after expenses will go to the Culture Ministry’s Fund for the Promotion of Culture.