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'Bao bare their souls

Songs-for-life band Carabao plans more big projects - a movie, a festival and a concert tour



After celebrating three decades in the music business last year with 76 concerts, a six-nation tour and a Bangkok-based expo that cost in excess of Bt100 million, leading songs-for-life exponents Carabao are ensuring fans never forget who they are and where they came from with another new gargantuan project - the aptly called "Carabao: The Project".

"It's absolutely perfect, a great way to go on," says Carabao's founder and frontman Yuenyong "Ad" Ophakul, during a press conference at Esplanade Cineplex, as he recalls his first meeting with Yuthtagon "R-Jo" Sookamooktapa, the man behind the project.

"Carabao: The Project", expected to total nearer Bt200 million in costs, comprises three parts: "Young 'Bao: The Movie", a festival on the theme "Made in Thailand" and a concert tour. All will take place next year.

"Young 'Bao" dramatises the life stories of the members of the band.

"I want to make a movie that I would want to see," says Yuthtagon, owner and founder advertising agency and production house Grand Big Bang and a long-time Carabao fan, who is making his debut as a film director.

"Having worked in advertising for 20 years, I decided I wanted to do something bigger. My original idea was for a project along the lines of an extended television commercial or even a short film about the band."

But even before that idea had fully formed, the 40-something rookie director realised that making any type of film inspired by Carabao and involving well-known performers and singers was going to involved a lot of planning due to tight show schedules. It's taken more than a year for him to select his stars then wait patiently till they can free up some time.

"I've flown all over the country to meet up with Carabao at concerts and huddled with them at their homes so I can talk about their stories and prepare the plot of the movie," he says. "But as a fan, it's been a wonderful time for me."

The biopic focuses primarily on the early days of the band's seven members who first came together in the early 1980s and hit the big time with their fifth album, 1984's "Made in Thailand", which sold more than five million copies. An unprecedented crowd of 60,000 fans turned out for the concert of the same name.

Cast to play Carabao in the film are Bodyslam's Athiwara "Toon" Kongmalai as Ad, Slur's Arak "Pe" Amornsupsiri as Preecha "Lek" Chanapai and Chulachak "Hugo" Chakrabongse as Thierry Mekwattana. Pawalit "Bank" Mongkolpisit plays keyboardist Kirati "Khiew" Phromsakha Na Sakolnakorn, Somchai "Tao" Khemklad is drummer Amnaj "Pao" Lookjan, Supakorn "Tok" Kijsuwan is flautist Thanis Sriklindee, and Pitisak "Tae" Yaowananon plays bassist Kirkkampol "Od" Prathompattama.

"It's a great honour for me to play Ad Carabao in this first-ever biopic," says Toon.

"Phi Thierry called me and told me that he really wanted me for his part," says Hugo. "Learning about his life is fascinating."

"The first thing that I must do is grow a moustache, which is Phi Lek's trademark. I've been going to his house and talking about his life, as well as attending Carabao's concerts and reading his book. But I can't imitate his talent for playing so many instruments like the guitar, sor, banjo and piano as well as singing," says Pe.

Tao recalls singing Carabao songs at high school while Bank says Khiew Carabao's "Sanya Na Fon" is on his playlist.

"I'll be attending a drum workshop. After all, I'm not a musician but an actor," says Tao. "Yuthtagon told me that I got the role because I look like Phi Pao."

While Yuthtagon freely admits he has little film experience, he will have the benefit of being able to consult his producer, veteran director Nonzee "Oui" Nimibutr, whose hits include "Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters" and "Nang Nak".

"I'm very honoured to be working on the project. Yuthtagon usually works on television commercials that run for just a few minutes and has never handled a two-hour movie. We'll be shooting scenes both here and overseas and part of the film will show a large-scale live concert. It's essential the filming is correctly designed and controlled," says Nonzee.

The movie will be followed by the "Made in Thailand" festival and a 50-concert tour around the country.

"The concert will have to be different from ones that have gone before," says Yuthtagon. "I'm confident it will be greater too."

The film, he adds, will feature more than 10 songs including the new track "Young 'Bao". A soundtrack album will also be released.

BIG BAHT FOR 'BAO

The budget for "Young 'Bao: The Movie" is estimated at around Bt100 million.

The actors are spending three months undergoing workshops to get ready for their parts. Shooting starts in October.

The film is scheduled for release in March.


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