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Ananda Everingham on Personality and ‘Hi So’ (High Society)

Ananda Everingham can be considered an outstanding Thai movie star, even though he is not Thai but of Australian-Lao descent. In addition, Ananda also seems to be a contradictory personality. You may already know all of this if you’re a devoted reader of this blog 😉

Hence, he calls himself a shy person who does not know how to entertain people well. What is more, in his youth he had troubles with the establishment but at the same time he was very much interested in classic world literature. However, nobody can deny that Ananda is a prominent and self-confident actor in many recent high-budget Thai films today, although he claims to suffer from stage-fright. Thus, one might be inclined to ask oneself how this all goes together and what it does reveal about his personality?

Ananda Everingham

Ananda Everingham in 'Hi So' (photo credit: theguardian.com)

Ananda Everingham in ‘Hi So’ (photo credit: theguardian.com)

It seems that the actor does not want to reveal to much of his actual personality. Hence, Ananda is very versatile in his roles and filmmaking thus avoiding to be stereotyped. He claims that he does not want “(…) to get stuck in a genre and I don’t want to be stereotyped. I don’t want to be seen as the action guy or the comedy actor or even the cool guy. I like it when my personality has nothing that associates with the characters I play”.*

Scene from 'Hi So' (photo credit: frontrowreviews.co.uk)

Scene from ‘Hi So’ (photo credit: frontrowreviews.co.uk)

Thus, we might call Ananda chameleon-like when choosing his roles. However, in this context, I think it’s also interesting to take a look at the independent art house movie ‘Hi So’ (High Society, 2010) because Ananda plays himself in this film and thus it is very personal and intimate to him. Thus, he claims ‘High Society’ “a very personal film because I’m playing myself, but it includes my director’s (Aditya Assarat) past and his story”.*

In short, we may say that the movie ‘Hi So’ is about the cultural confusion of a young Thai man who has become a movie star and who never fits in anywhere. Thus, there seem to be two opposing sides of the protagonist Ananda. On the one hand, he is privileged and grew up in overseas (Australian) influence. On the other hand, he has lost connection with his native country. However, abroad he is Thai and thus a foreigner. His life seems to be torn apart because he is unable to deal with and adapt to the different cultural demands. In addition, in the movie, Ananda left behind an Australian girlfriend and hooks up with a new Thai girlfriend. However, she feels alienated by his English-speaking friends and Western ways.

'High Society' (photo credit: huffingtonpost.co.uk))

Feeling the alienation, ‘High Society’ (photo credit: huffingtonpost.co.uk))

In fact, in real life Ananda also went through some troubles finding his identity. This was because he held Australian citizenship, mainly grew up in Thailand and started his acting career there. He felt very much Thai but had to struggle with work permits because he was not officially Thai. However, a few years ago he was granted Thai citizenship. Nevertheless, I don’t think the ‘real’ Ananda underwent any kind of cultural confusion, although being a half-child and ‘luk kreung’. He seems to be very much integrated in Thai society and popular culture. Whether as model or as an actor, he cuts quite a figure 🙂

In a nutshell, we may say that Ananda Everingham prefers to be a chameleon when acting and choosing roles. Even though we might find that there is always a lot of Ananda in every character that he embodies, we will not be able to fathom his true dynamic personality.

Yours, Sirinya

(*Quotes from Bangkok Post, Ananda Everingham on Movies)




Buddhism in Thai Movies: The Holy Man Trilogy

Buddhism is a prominent subject in Thai movies and hence such films are also referred to as belonging to the ‘monk genre’. In such movies, Buddhist monks are the protagonists and it is important to note that they also frequently occur in the genre of Thai horror movies. Monks as main characters provide guidance to people seeking their advice. In addition, they also fight and beat evil spirits. However, the Thai Censorship Board claims that Thai movies must generally depict Buddhism with respect and reverence. Otherwise a film might get censored.

The Holy Man Trilogy

Scene from The Holy Man 3 (photo credit: movie.sanook.com)

Scene from The Holy Man 3, Krissada Sukosol as monk ‘Noi’ (left), Phra Yoakyake, the abbot and Kittiphong Khamsat as Dek-Wat-Em (right) (photo credit: movie.sanook.com)

Thus, I would like to focus on the comedy trilogy of The Holy Man. The first movie of this trilogy is called Luang Phii Teng (หลวงพี่เท่ง) and was released in 2005. It deals with a former bad boy and troublemaker who has become a monk. He comes to a small town and resides in the Buddhist temple of this city. There he is facing opposition from a local mafia boss who presents his daughter as a fake spirit medium. It is a simple but nonetheless entertaining comedy that was the second highest-grossing movie of the year 2005, starring the popular Thai TV comedian Pongsak Pongsuwan.

The trailer is only available in Thai, nevertheless, even if you don’t understand, you will get the comic elements 😉 You can also watch the full version of this movie (in Thai) here.

The Holy Man 2 draws on the great success of the previous movie. However, in the second part King of Thai Rapper Joey Boy has the leading role as the young monk Luang Phi Tet who comes to the small village. He thus replaces his predecessor Luang Phi Teng who has gone to Tibet. He wants to become a forest monk but faces many obstacles. Nevertheless, Luang Phi Tet comes to a temple close to a quarry. Every time there are explosions in the mountain, the temple is damaged with debris and monks have to wear helmets to protect their heads. The situation is dangerous and the monk wants to help.

In fact, Luang Phi Tet is innovative and even renews the way to say sermon. While the abbot sings “Luuk Thung” (ลูกทุ่ง), Luang Phi Tet creates his own Thai hip hop version. Hence, the result is a fun song with Joey Boy, Buddha Bless and the Gancore Club 😉 The full version of the film is available here but it is only in Thai.

In 2010, the third episode of The Holy Man 3 (Luang Phi Teng III) was launched. In my opinion this film is the funniest of the trilogy 😉 The movie is about two new monks. One of them is Noi Wongpru (played by Thai-American singer and actor Krissada Sukosol), a former rock star who decides to enter monkhood because he is needs calm and is bored with materialism. He is looking to find peace and tranquillity for he is a stressed and burned out man. The other young monk, Phra Prasert is played by Buddha Bless singer Gui Oui (Natee Ekwijit).

The abbot reminds Noi of the analogy between a hose splashing randomly due to water pressure and the restless spirit always wandering. There are numerous funny gags and comic moments when the monks are going out to collects alms. Hence, they also encounter the short chubby boy and very funny comic actor Koeti Aramboy who tries to offer food to the giant monk who has the telling name Phra Yoakyake (Yoakyake Chernyim). In fact, I find the character of Phra Yoakyake truly hilarious 🙂 and the name indeed suits him well, since ‘Yaokyake’ means ‘giant temple guard’.

The monks face a lot of adventures. Hence, robbers steal the temple bell and then they also try to behead the Buddha statue and steal the head. The leader of the gang is a Chinese vendor. As a consequence, the monks are really distressed. However, they are also lucky since the main Buddha statue remains intact and is not stolen because it is is too heavy.

Akom Preedakul acts as a funny Thai boxing trainer who brings coyote dancers to the temple 🙂 There is also a sequence about villagers who flee ghosts thus referring to 1980s and 90s Thai comedy ghost movies.

Noi and biker friend Ed Carabao (photo credit: i.ytimg.com)

Noi and biker friend Ed Carabao (photo credit: i.ytimg.com)

Since the head of the Buddha image is stolen, the giant monk Phra Yoakyake disguises himself as Buddha statue in order to trick the robbers and to find out where they hide the bell and the Buddha head. Finally Noi asks his former bikers friends for help. They are led by Ed Carabao who is the real leader of the famous Thai band Carabao. There is a happy ending because the robbers are captured and the Buddha head recovered. A full version of the movie is available here.

I think the Holy Man trilogy deals with Buddhist topics in a fun and effortless way without being disrespectful, although some scenes might appear a bit silly 🙂 Do you know this trilogy?

Yours, Sirinya

(For a comprehensive source about Buddhism in Thai movies click here)




Ananda Everingham: Thai Movie Star

Ananda Everingham can be regarded as the foremost Thai movie star although he has no Thai origins. Born 1982 in Thailand, Ananda is in fact of Australian-Laotian descent and had Australian nationality until a few years ago, when he received Thai nationality. His father is the Australian photojournalist John Everingham who has lived in Thailand since the 1970s and his mother, Keo Sirisomphone, is from Laos. In his youth, Ananda travelled with his father through Asian countries and was a kind of assistant to his Dad who worked as a photographer.

Ananda Everingham

Ananda Everingham*

Ananda Everingham*

By the way, the meeting of Ananda’s parents was roughly dramatized in the 1983 NBC television movie ‘Love Is Forever’ or ‘Comeback’ with Michael Landon and Laura Gemser in the leading roles. The story is about John Everingham who dives in the Mekong river and rescues his girlfriend from the communist regime in Laos. Well, it might seem a pathetic tale but Ananda also enjoys telling the story in interviews like this one which is in fact quite amusing and entertaining 😉

Hence, it was a fine start for Ananda’s own career as an actor and model. Thus, he tells us in the interview that he was discovered relatively early in his youth, at the age of 14, when he was working in his parent’s Indian restaurant in Bangkok. Since then, he has had leading roles in numerous Thai movies but also in other Asian films.

Movie star Ananda Everingham*

Movie star Ananda Everingham*

It was the Thai horror movie ‘Shutter’ (2004) that made Everingham famous as an actor in Thailand. There was even a Hollywood remake of ‘Shutter’ in 2008. This movie is mainly about a young photographer named Thun and his girlfriend Jane who have a car accident with a young woman. They run the woman over and she dies on the street because they do not help her. It is a case of a hit and run accident. Consequently, the are haunted by the dead woman’s spirit and discover mysterious shadows and supernatural images in their photographs. The woman’s ghost is revengeful and this is also a recurrent theme in Thai horror movies. Here is a clip from ‘Shutter’ to give you an impression.

Ananda has starred in a number of other Thai horror films, for instance in Ghost Delivery (2003) and most recently in O.T. Ghost Overtime (2014) which is a horror comedy. However, he also starred in romantic dramas like ‘Bangkok Time’ and ‘Me…Myself’ in 2007. Another important movie in his career so far is ‘Hi So’ (High Society, 2010) since he plays himself in this film. It is quite striking that Ananda requently plays photographers in films, thus also in ‘Happy Birthday’ (2009), a role for which he was awarded ‘Best Actor’ by the Thailand National Film Association Awards. ‘Happy Birthday’ is about love and hope, to put it in a nutshell.

An important movie in Everingham’s career so far is the 2008 Thai-Lao romantic drama ‘Sabaidee Luang Prabang’ (Good morning, Luang Prabang) because it deals with the relationship between Thailand and Laos and it is also the first Thai-Laotian commercial film since 1975.

Ananda plays the photographer Sorn*

Ananda often plays photographers in his movies*

In this movie, he also plays a photographer from Thailand who visits Laos. In fact, photography appears to be very important and thus a recurrent subject in his films. If you take a look at Ananda’s Instagram account, you will notice that he enjoys taking beautiful landscape photos among others 😉

What is more, Ananda has been in numerous TV series and starred in a variety of different film genres. For example, he was in the historical fantasy adventure film ‘Queens of Langkasuka’ (2008) and the very popular Thai romantic drama ‘Eternity’ (Chua fah din salai, 2010).

Getting ready for a historical movie like the 'Queens of Langkarsuka'*

Getting ready for a historical movie like the ‘Queens of Langkasuka’*

In this movie, he starred alongside famous Thai actress Laila Boonyasak (Ploy Chermarn). ‘Eternity’ is about the young man Sangmong (Ananda) who falls in love with his uncle’s wife Yupadee (Ploy). This is a tragic story since Yupadee finally commits suicide and Songmong becomes mad with grief and agony.

In conclusion, we may say that there is a lot of Mr. Everingham in each character that he plays. I think he can identify with the figures that he embodies. Thus, he claims that it’s his task to find truth in each movie script and character. He chooses his roles according to the physicality of the character and dreams of doing some slapstick and situation comedy in the near future 🙂

Ananda*

Ananda*

I think Ananda Everingham is a charismatic actor and always cuts quite a figure. Somehow he reminds me of Jhonny Depp. In addition, he is also a half-Asian person and may thus be regarded as an example of a ‘luk kreung’ who has become very successful in Thailand. Do you know any of his movies? Which one do you like?

Yours, Sirinya

*photo credit: Ananda Everingham, FB page