By The Nation
IS THERE A doctor in the house? It’s nice to have doctors who are involved in show business – you know, just in case something untoward happens on the stage or on the set.
We have Dr Sarawit “Kong” Subun, who’s also an actor, and Dr Smith Arayasakul, who’s also both an actor and a singer. Now we have a doctor who’s also a film director.
Ritt Pokkrittayahariboon practised at various hospitals before settling in Khemarat, in Ubon Ratchathani on the Mekong River, and deciding to make a movie about the place, “Ormkord Khemarat” (“Embracing Khemarat”). It’s due in theatres on May 12.
Dr Ritt immediately fell in love with his new hometown, which always leaves him feeling mellow. He turned that blissful mood into a novel and now a film.
Born to a struggling family in Surin, Ritt was able to attend high school in Bangkok and then pursued a medical degree at Khon Kaen University. A professor urged him to keep studying and become a surgeon, but he had to get a job working as soon as possible to repay his parents for financing his education. He interned at a major hospital in Ubon Ratchathani before switching to the small one in Khemarat.
Though working full-time as a doctor, Ritt has also dabbled in other local businesses, growing to love the town and its people more and more. He was amazed to discover that a lot of residents weren’t proud of where they lived. So he set up a contest to encourage them to make short films about Khemarat’s obvious beauties and hidden gems.
Then came the novel, with Khemarat as its setting, and it begged to be turned into a movie, sure to promote the area as a travel destination. Ritt wrote the script and funded the project out of his own pocket, as well as directing.
It’s about a woman doctor arriving from Bangkok and falling for the owner of a local coffee shop and resort. What she discovers while tending to her patients, many of them Lao, adds to the story’s warm appeal.
And the a real doctor is playing the lady doctor – none other than Miss Thailand 2009 first runner-up Kobkullaya Chuengprasertsri, making her acting debut!
Drenched in love
Congratulations are due another film director, Poj Arnon, whose monk comedy “Luang Pee Jazz 4G” got so soaked in box-office cash over Songkran that it’s already surpassed the coveted Bt150-million milestone. Poj has declared, though, that its take is actually double that amount if all the receipts right across the country are counted.
The official box-office tally covers only the income from Bangkok and Chiang Mai, a practice that’s been in place since the multiplex boom 20 years ago. In the interim, however, hundreds of other cinemas have opened in every corner of the Kingdom, but income from them still isn’t taken into account for the official record.
It’s the same with “Pee Mak Phra Khanong”, Thailand’s most successful movie of all time. Officially it earned Bt568.88 million, but GTH, the studio that made it, claims receipts from across the country push that figure close to Bt1 billion.