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Latest remake in long-running Thai series reaches end-game

The frequency with which remakes pop up has always amazed me. Screenplays with better, fresher stories to tell must surely be piling up on producers' desks. Yet still they opt for recycled favourites like Channel 3's "Thong Nuea Kao" ("Pure Gold"), starring Woranuch (Noon) Wongsawan. Many viewers will remember its first outing in 1987, with Apiradee Pawaphutanon in the lead role, before Ratchaneekorn Panmanee took over for the 1997 version.

But classic tales are a sure source of the "showbiz gold" that producers are always seeking to recast in new forms that catch the eye.

The latest remake launched recently with massive parties all over the country and new actors taking old roles.

This is a Thai series, so naturally the relationship of the two romantic leads (let's call them S and Y) gets off to a rough start. Y comes from a rich Northern family some consider philanthropists and others mafia, while S hails from the South. Cultural differences lie like rocks on their road to happiness. They make promises to stay faithful - but they're the same promises that have been made and broken for the past 81 years of this long-running series.

We all know that Northerners and Southerners have different tastes, though both believe that sharing food with their neighbour is a good thing.

But Northerners are also considered beggars, happy to wait for handouts, by their cousins further south. Remarkably, both families have never met. Their views of each other are based purely on prejudices.

I have no idea how this will end, as the director is yet to be named. But he or she has decided to add spice, along with a bunch of new actors, to the series. The stars hate Y and her family and are doing everything to eradicate them from the plot.

The makers just came up with a fresh twist - the death of the world's most respected expert on reconciliation, former South African prime minister Nelson Mandela.

Maybe the director is paving way for a happy ending?

Mandela is remembered for the incredible strides he made towards reconciliation in a country torn by an apartheid regime that lasted decades. He forgave even those who kept him in prison for 27 years, and opposed a South Africa dominated either by whites or by blacks.

In truth, it wasn't Mandela alone who ended apartheid and gave birth to modern South Africa. Other politicians, black and white, contributed to the process, which was painful and marred by unrest and killings across the country. Yet Mandela and others refused to give up hope. They met with triumph when, in 1994, black South Africans were allowed to vote in a general election for the first time.

The queues of first-time voter were so long on the first day, that the government was forced to print new ballot papers. The rush to the ballot boxes also meant a headache for those counting the votes, leaving news stations anxiously waiting for the result. The country began a mass party when it was announced that Mandela had become its first black president.

After taking power, he didn't forget his promises. Structural changes to the political system were introduced to ensure an end to domination by white or black.

The upshot was a victory for the whole nation.

Perhaps that was why our Thai director included Mandela - to cheer up his leading couple.

Well, to win the support of both family and friends, they will need to work harder to overcome their differences. In the process, they will have to endure a lot of pain, which will be added to by outsiders.

In a previous episode S and Y plotted to register their marriage secretly, without their parents' knowledge, but the registrar ruled it out, saying it was against the norms. Both argued that norms were the result of people's actions and as such could be changed. But the registrar insisted that they must not defy their parents, or society would be in chaos. Moreover, the registrar remembered that none of the earlier couples had ever kept their promises to change and improve. What could the couple do but surrender to his wishes?

In the last episode, with Y's help, S launches a campaign to woo support for his love. The campaign is full of promises, something that all those in love do but few manage to fulfil.

It's "make or break", he said.

Well, the director is refusing to divulge more about the ending. The series is definitely not my favourite, but despite the lengthy, boring parts, I still want to see how it ends. Let's hope it's a happy one, where both the families and their friends somehow achieve victory against all the odds.


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