The four-part film “Khong Khwan” is both tribute to the late King and a ‘gift’ to all Thais
Thai cinema giant Sahamongkolfilm International has produced a movie about His Majesty the late King Bhumibol that will be screened for free beginning tomorrow at theatres throughout the land.
Sahamongkolfilm president Somsak Techarattanaprasert says he put Nonzee “Oui” Nimibutr in charge of producing and co-directing “Khong Khwan”, the studio’s way of paying its respects to the beloved monarch.
Nonzee says he set out to “pass forward our love for and loyalty to His Majesty, to Thais in all four regions of the country – it’s like our khong khwan [gift] to them”.
He assembled a directing team – Chookiat “Ma-Deaw” Sakveerakul from the North, Prachya Pinkaew from the Northeast and Kongkiat Khomsiri from the South, with Nonzee himself representing the Central region – to brainstorm about areas of focus and ways to reach every citizen.
“So we really have four movies with four points of view and four expressions of emotion.”
Nonzee says he was “excited” when Somsak told him he wanted to invest in the project and that everyone would get to see it for free for a month. But Chookiat laughs that he initially thought the idea of free screenings was “crazy”.
“Once I understood the intent, though, I felt honoured to be part of the project.”
Kongkiat’s first reactions were fear and tension – “because I didn’t know any of the royal vocabulary. Then I read several stories about the late King and overcame my worries. It became a way of expressing my loyalty to His Majesty.”
“Khong Khwan” begins with “The Letter”, the segment Prachya directed, about a rural lad undertaking a journey so he can send a letter to his distant “father” – the late King, who was revered as the father of all Thais.
Nonzee’s “Dokmai Nai Kong Khaya” (“Beautiful Garbage”) follows, illustrating how a family’s love and warmth can help build a sustainable society, no matter how well off or how poor the family.
Kongkiat’s “Sajja Thoranee” (“The Truth in the Country”) depicts a young woman learning about her father’s background and finding faith in life.
“Mek Fon Bon Pa Nuea” (“Rain Clouds over the Northern Forest”), by Chookiat is about a group of students who want to conserve nature but end up in conflict with landowners.
Nonzee says the directors’ brainstorming began with a discussion on what they appreciated most about the late King’s frequent guidance. “He spoke mainly about the need to do good and about knowing what our individual duty is. I ended up in tears reading the scripts.
“My segment is about someone who society considers useless, and yet he’s a good guy. Most people wonder why they’re not as rich or as happy as others, but we don’t consider the people in lower social positions.
“‘Dokmai Nai Kong Khaya’ is about the beauty in dirtiness, the beautiful flower growing in a disgusting garbage dump. If we have a loving family, we can overcome obstacles and get out of bad situations. So I have a father who works as a trash collector, played by Surasak Wongthai, raising a daughter who doesn’t understand him.”
Surasak’s co-stars are Arisara Wongchalee, Tanapak Jongjaiphar and Chanikarn Tungkobdee.
Chookiat’s segment features Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang, Isaya Horsuwan and Chawinroj Likitcharoensakul. In it, he ponders the late King’s royal projects, which could bring wasteland to life.
“I thought about rain clouds and that linked to the idea of a teenager pursuing his dream as a matter of belief or faith, running along with the rain,” Chookiat says.
“His Majesty said, ‘Wherever we are bringing development, we should learn about the needs of the local people so that the development will be effective and sustainable.’ Social conflicts can be resolved if we get to understand each other better, and my segment is about students who’ve volunteered to help with a reforestation project. But they come into conflict with the villagers by encroaching on their farmland.”
Prachya’s “The Letter” stars Teerapoj Tuansawad as the Isaan boy who writes an admiring missive to the late King.
“It’s like a small adventure, like a Disney movie,” Prachya says. “Everybody was always happy during the shoot. Anytime you do a project about the late King, everybody in the vicinity is in a good mood, because it lets them enjoy those special feelings he aroused.”
Kongkiat’s “Sajja Thoranee”, co-written with Sudthasit Podthasak, features Monkolchai Yukol, Natchapat Sangrit and Anchalee Hassadeevichit.
“The theme is discovering your family roots, knowing where you come from,” says the director. “Whatever we do, we have to know our true identity, but these days there is so much deception about sharing our true identities.
“The soil never lies, though, and His Majesty was always keen about developing the soil. The name Bhumibol refers to ‘Palang Khong Paendin’ [‘The Powers of Earth’], so I decided to make a story of the soil. Monkolchai plays a Muslim father and presents a puzzle in the story. Anchalee is a mother harbouring his secret, and newcomer Natchapat is their teenage daughter, who wants to know why people regard her father as bad.”
Cheewin “Boyd” Kosiyabong composed a tune especially for the movie, “Song Tor Khwam Rak” (“Pass the Love Forward”). It’s sung by Nop Ponchamni, Saksit Vejsupaporn, Suveera Boonrod, Witwisit Hiranyawongkul, Thanon Chamroen, Krissada Sukosol Clapp, Akaradej Yodjampa (aka Kong Huayrai), Rungrat Mengpanit and Worrawech Danuwong.
Be there early enough
- “Khong Khwan” will be screened at all outlets of Major Cineplex and SF Cinema beginning tomorrow.
- Everyone who arrives at least an hour before screening time is entitled to two free passes.
- You can see the trailer at https://youtu.be/VDSaOzzHB6Y and the music video at https://youtu.be/svhgbPIGceA.