Adding glitter to Goa

Top Thai stars : Akara Amarttayakul and (right) Ananda Everingham (in a scene from Coffin).

Top Thai stars : Akara Amarttayakul and (right) Ananda Everingham (in a scene from Coffin).   | Photo Credit: Photo: Lekha J. Shankar

There will be an extra dimension to the IFFI (Nov 22 to Dec 2) as it will include an exciting package and personalities from Thailand. Lekha J. Shankar

This year’s International Film Festival of India (IFFI, Nov 22 to Dec 2) has an exciting package from Thailand. These films, and the Thai stars, will add an extra dimension to the strong range of Asian cinema at the festival.

Top of the list is ‘The Coffin,’ which is in Competition, directed by the Singapore-based Thai director Ekachai Uekgrontham, whose 2005 film ‘Beautiful Boxer’ won the Silver Peacock award at IFFI. The director said that he will be delighted to return to the paradise, Goa !

Ekachai Uekgrontham attempts the horror genre in this film, which is different from his earlier social drama about a transvestite boxer.

Unique custom

‘The Coffin’ centres round the unique Thai custom of sleeping in a coffin to ward off a serious illness. The custom brings good results, but also spine-chilling surprises and Ekachai has a bevy of stars, from Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, to take part in the gripping drama.

Among them is the internationally-acclaimed actor Karen Mok, who loved the script and agreed to do a horror film for the first time in her distinguished career. Also in the film, is Thailand’s superstar, Ananda Everingham, who will also attend the IFFI.

The half-Australian actor, better known as the ‘Johnny Depp of Asia,’ has had six releases this year, a phenomenal achievement in Thailand. Last year, two films of this talented actor premiered at the Cannes festival. An avid traveller of India, before he became famous, the dashing Ananda said it will be a dream come true to visit Goa, a place he has not been to before.

Another top Thai actor attending IFFI will be Akara Amarttayakul, who recently won a ‘Superstar Reality Show’ on TV in Bangkok, which has now made him a hot and much sought-after star.

Akara plays a ruthless boxer in ‘Muay Thai Chaiya’ which is in the Cinema of the World section. The suave, New York-educated actor learnt this ancient form of Thai boxing especially for the film, and will doubtless be more than happy to demonstrate it to eager audiences, as he did at the Miami International Festival, where the film created a storm. He won the Thai Film Association Award as well as the Thai Film Critics Best Actor Award for this film.

Another visitor will be the tall, sultry Jeed Sangtong Gate-Uthong, a model who is much in demand in Thailand. She plays the bar girl who entices the boxer in ‘Muay Thai Chaiya.’

The action-studded ‘Chocolate,’ directed by Prachya Pinkaew (famous for his Ong Bak martial arts films), which created box-office records around the world including India, will also be part of the package.

In ‘Chocolate,’ which premiered at the Toronto festival, Prachya Pinkaew has a heroine who specialises in martial arts, for which the debutant actor Nicharee Vismistananda was specially trained, and she does a stunning job. She plays an autistic girl who destroys her mother’s enemies, in a totally entertaining film that is sure to go down well with Indian audiences.

The villain is played by noted indie director Pongpat Wachirabunjong, whose film ‘Me Myself’ created waves and won the Silver Peacock Award at IFFI last year

Quite different in tone and subject, is the old-world, historical film ‘First Flight,’ directed by Thanit Jittnukul (his historical film ‘Bang Rajan’ has done the rounds at many international festivals). It is a heart-warming story of a rural boy who wants to become a pilot and succeeds. The film is based on the real story of the first aviation flight in Thailand, which came about with French training, and the French instructor in the film plays a pivotal role that admirably captures the East-West conflict of cultures and philosophies, in former Siam.

Last but not the least in the Thai package is ‘A Moment in June,’ the debut feature of young, US-educated O. Nathapon. It has premiered at the Pusan festival and was the opening film of the World Film Festival of Bangkok.

The tale intertwines three different love-stories, including that of a young couple married to different partners, a middle-aged pair discovering each other very late, and a gay couple who are tortured by their love. The film boasts of a well-known Thai cast including Shahkrit Yamnam (who starred in ‘Bangkok Dangerous’ with Nicholas Cage) and the popular stars Sinitha Boonyasak and Krissada Clapp Sukosol.

Half American-Thai singer-actor Krissada, of the well-known Thai pop band Pru, will be flying down to IFFI in between concerts, to quench his big thirst for India.

All in all, it looks like this year’s IFFI has a rare but unique feast of exciting cinema, and stars from the ‘Land of Smiles.’

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