The 10th moving image avatar of the character Angsumalin _ one of the most beloved in the canon of Thai literature _ is a naive girl who's no longer playing Chinese cymbalo but is instead an expert rower. Playing Angsumalin in the latest film version of Khu Kam is Oranate "Richy" D. Caballes, an 18-year-old professional badminton player from Chiang Mai. She will star opposite Nadech Kugimiya as the Thai woman who falls in love with the Japanese soldier Kobori during the chaos of World War II when the Emperor's Army marched through Siam.
Khu Kam is one of the most popular Thai novels of the past half-century. Several famous actors and celebrities have played the roles of Kobori and Angsumalin. The novel's author, national artist Tommayanti, recently said that Sukrit "Bie" Wisetkaew, in the still-on-air television series, is perfectly suited to play Kobori. What's interesting about the latest film adaptation, directed by Kittikorn Leosirikul and coming out tomorrow, is that both main characters are played by stars of European descent.
Oranate is the youngest and the greenest actress to ever play Angsumalin _ this is her first movie role. We caught up with her one evening.
Have you ever watched or read Khu Kam before?
I watched the version with Pornchita Na Songkhla portraying Angsumalin [made in 2004 and aired on Channel 3]. I was in elementary school at that time. The version with Thongchai "Bird" McIntyre [probably the most popular TV version] was made before I was born so I never watched it. I read the novel in the school library. I was moved. I love the descriptions in the book, I could visualise the image of the story in my head.
What do you think of the character Angsumalin?
I'm not fond of this character. Angsumalin is a cruel woman. Kobori treats her kindly and she despises him as an enemy. At the end, well, she loves him, but Kobori is no longer there, and she's crying, and I'm like, "Girl, that's what you deserve!"
How did you get this important role?
I was a badminton player for a provincial team. During the big Bangkok flood two years ago, Supachai Srivijit [a talent manager] moved to Chiang Mai and found me playing badminton. I didn't know who he was, but I saw my mother talking to him while I was practising badminton. He stayed in Chiang Mai for a while, and he asked my mother and me to visit his office in Bangkok. My mother had to discuss this with all her friends and everyone said that she should let me work with him because he is well known [as someone who develops young stars].
Did you audition for the role?
I went to see Kittikorn [the director] at his office. He didn't tell me that I was auditioning for Khu Kam. I was very shy. He tested me by asking many questions. I told him the truth, that I had never acted before in my life. He asked me if I knew Khu Kam, and I said yes. Then he asked me if I knew Angsumalin and that he wanted to me to be her.
Did he ask you what you thought about the character?
He asked me to describe my opinion toward Angsumalin. I said that she has a rough manner. Then he asked if he wanted Angsumalin to be a gentle lady, would I be able to be her? I said it's up to him. After that he asked me if I could row a boat. I said yes. During the flood in Chiang Mai, I used to row. Finally he asked me to come for a workshop, that's how I got to play Angsumalin.
About the author
Writer: Donsaron Kovitvanitcha