The Nation

Coping with colours (Part II)

LOVE, LADIES - AND KOREA! After years of male characters pushing women around in Thai films, female protagonists have begun scoring points too.

The shift began with last year's "Rot Fai Fah Ma Ha Na Ther" ("Bangkok Traffic Love Story"), in which an ordinary office worker played by winsome Sirin "Cris" Horwang won the heart of a Skytrain maintenance engineer, played by soap-opera leading man Theeradej "Ken" Wongpuapan.

This year Cris' muscle was matched by Pimchanok "Bai Fern" Leuwisedpaiboon in "Sing Lek Lek Thee Riak Wa Rak" ("First Love") and Nuengtida "Noo Na" Sophon in "Guan Muen Ho" ("Hello Stranger"). These young actresses with fresh faces have become beloved stars as a result. Their popularity matches the films' success at the box office. The low-profile "First Love" was a surprise hit, earning Bt80 million, but GTH's "Guan Muen Ho" was the top-grossing movie of the year, reaping Bt131.9 million. They and "Bangkok Traffic" have in common lead female characters who are ordinary women. In "First Love", Bai Fern plays an ugly duckling schoolgirl who falls for a popular boy (Mario Maurer) and does anything to make herself prettier and get his attention. "Hello Stranger" picked up on Thais' attraction to all things Korean, taking its protagonists on an adventure in South Korea, where they fall in love. These are stories that anyone can relate to, and especially girls. Most people have had similar experiences to the woman in "First Love", and just about everyone wants to visit Korea to see where their favourite TV series were shot. Simple stories that hold universal appeal are likely to be big again in 2011. A sequel to "First Love" is in the works, and GTH will make a teenager film - working title "Suck Seed" - to show off its new young actor Jirayu La-ongmanee. Another actress, though not exactly a new face, came into her own this past year. Sudarat "Tukky" Butrprom, who got her start as wardrobe mistress and has played supporting roles in many comedy films and TV series for Workpoint Entertainment, took the lead as a fairytale princess in "Tukky Jao Ying Kai Kob". She went from kissing frogs to captur ing the heart of boyband prince Louis Scott. The movie made Bt67 million for Sahamongkol Film International, ensuring Tukky's place as a box-office draw. PARINYAPORN PAJEE

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