Blockbuster Actress Pays Tribute To Ghost of 'Nak'

(25 April) Star of "Peemaak…Phra Kanong" dances before the shrine dedicated to the spirit of a mythical figure whose life and death story the film was based upon.

Davika "Mai" Horne played the role of Naak, a woman who, according to a folk story virtually every Thai knows about, died during childbirth while her husband went to war. When Maak returns, he was greeted by the ghost of Naak and lived with her a while, not unaware that she was dead.

Many Thais deeply revere Naak. Her shrine at Mahabut temple in Bangkok is often visited by women who prayed for safe childbirth and men who prayed that they would be exempted from military service.

"Peemaak" is the latest remake of the story, and has already broken the 300 million baht mark, grossing more than 500 million baht in Bangkok and Chiang Mai alone after 28 days in theaters, becoming the highest-grossing Thai film ever.

Toeng Bunjong Pisuntanakul, the young director, estimates that all domestic revenue included, the number should rise to 700 million baht.

At the shrine, Ms. Davika wore the traditional Thai costume. Once arrived, Mai and her mother makes an offering of flowers, candles, and incense to the Yaa Naak altar before performing the dance alongside 6 professional Thai dancers, with Toeng Bunjong Pisuntanakul, the director of the film, and her adoring fans present. Afterwards, Mai and Toeng gave a short interview to reporters.

Mai says that the reason she came is due to her mom’s vow to the holy shrine that if her daughter’s movie reaches 300 million baht revenue, the star would perform a traditional Thai dance to thank the ghost of Naak.

When the crew first told Mai of this, she thought they were joking, but upon asking her mother for clarification, her mother admitted to the vow. Thus, the star had to train in traditional Thai dancing to perform for today.

As for her feelings on the success of the movie, Mai states that “As an actress, I am very happy to know that my work is received so well. This movie is making history and it is a very rare thing.”

When asked about any vows he may have made, Toeng admits that “I have made a vow in Japan, actually, and I think I have to go make good on that vow at the end of the year atop Mt. Fuji. My vow was for a revenue of 150 million baht only, and now it has greatly succeeded that. All I’m waiting for now is for those of you who haven’t seen the movie to just go into theatres and watch it.”

Toeng also explains that the revenue includes Bangkok and Chiangmai only. As for other provinces, it works on a charter basis of 10 million baht per charter. For this movie, when it finally leaves the theatre, this amount may be added to the overall revenues which will help him see how much people want to see Thai movies.

“If every province is included, there is a chance that the number has reached 700 million baht. I think this success comes from many aspects. First of all, the story is a modern twist on an age old well known story. Also, it comes from word of mouth and social networks which helps the movie maintain its viewership throughout the latter weeks of its theatre life.” says the famous director.

When asked about plans for “Peemak” overseas, Toeng reveals that in May, “Peemak” will be in theatres in Sydney, Australia and Singapore. As for Thailand, “Peemak”’s theatre time has been extended until mid-late May. “Mr.Visoot (administrator of GTH) has said there will be a bonus for the cast and crew of “Peemak”. We’ll see how that goes.”

Mai Davika jokingly hints at her reward. “Now I’m just waiting to see where Mr. Visoot will take us. Personally, I want to visit Paris, France.”

Peemak Phra Kanoeng has been in theatres since March 28th 2013.