This Land is Our Land- A Series Review
Posted on August 7, 2012
Torranee Nee Nee Krai Krong (This Land is Our Land) is a romantic/drama lakorn derived from a book with the same title, the second depiction broadcasted on primetime after the attempt in 1998. Unlike many remakes of its kind, the producer waited for a long time before she partook in this endeavor, until the day she met the perfect duo to cast for Athit and Darunee, the leading characters in the novel. The lakorn demanded a koo-kwan (onscreen sweethearts) that will sweep people off their feet and believably take them on a journey of social ideals, personal aspirations and author’s motives through the eyes of Athit and Darunee. She found her key pieces in Nadech and Yaya, after seeing them in Duangjai Akkanee (Akkanee’s Heart) where they played as star crossed lovers and took fangirling to another level.
After the success of Game Rai Game Rak (Evil Game Love Game), Torranee came as a compelling follow up to Nadech and Yaya’s second collaboration, inducing the fever and fire further for their fan clubs and critics alike. With any hype and anticipation, the question remains if they have done enough to live up to the expectations?
Torranee is a story about Athit, an agricultural student who volunteers to work in Grandma’s Farm to follow his dreams of being an adept farmer and to atone for his father’s transgressions in the past. Upon working in the farm, he falls in love with the vast land belonging to grandma. Athit experiences many obstacles to reach his goals and grown up years, especially ones that are fraught on by Darunee, a young girl a few years his junior, whom grandma loves and adores.
Athit’s entrance in the farm is a threat to Darunee because she presumes that he is here to steal grandma’s inheritance by creating a connection and relationship with grandma. In an effort to protect her grandma, Darunee keeps a keen eye on Athit and does her best to sabotage him. Their bickering and constant competition worries grandma to no end because deep within her heart, she hopes that they will eventually reconcile and work together to carry on the agricultural haven that she has created from the ground up.
Originally when I read the detailed synopsis from Wishy’s site, and noticed the angst and injustice brought upon Athit, I was skeptical about the remake. According to the novel (and the first adaptation on TV with Andy) Athit first gets screwed and has to marry Thongprasri, then he falls head over heels in love with Toon, Darunee’s best friend and then more strife occurs later when he avoids Darunee like the plague but eventually when she saves him from the snakebite, he realizes he loves her all along. Does that sound like something exceptionally appealing? I think not. So I was glad that the director decided not to follow the novel to a tee and puts his own spin to it. I found Athit’s devotion and utmost (if secretly admiring) love for Darunee sweet and makes for watching the events that unfurled on him more bearable. I like me a one love-one woman kind of guy.
The author injected several of her own beliefs and conjectures of how the world works into dialogues, mostly coming from grandma, without beating the viewers over the head too much with commentaries. The nuggets of wisdoms and opinions typically occur after an event, to reiterate a lesson for the leading characters. An important message imparted in this lakorn is that agricultural endeavors (being a farmer) should not be looked down upon. She utilized Athit, a handsome, capable fellow and his desire to be a farmer to inspire others to follow suit. Farming is also a very difficult job, it is a way of life: a farmer lives and breathes for his crops. For instance Athit faced some setbacks on the farm: he made the mistake of planting wild bananas instead of sweet bananas. His mistake wouldn’t have been so astronomical if Darunee hadn’t planned his demise. Also down the road, Athit went head to head with Mother Nature, who wreaked havoc on his first attempt to plant rice, but eventually he beats the odds and achieves his ambitions. Not only does this remind us to appreciate farmers and the crops that we purchase and consume, but with a good attitude and perseverance, we too can weather the storm.
The author’s motive has good intentions. She’s thinking of the big picture by giving us something much smaller to evaluate and chew on. She wants to motivate the younger generation to be more in tune to Thailand’s abundance and specialty: agriculture. The country is very much export-dependent with rice and other crops, tis important that the newer generation look upon farming as a positive contribution, instead of focusing on finance and other jobs in Bangkok. Thailand needs strong minds and bodies to cultivate the land; otherwise the economic growth will be stagnant.
But this story is not all about farming lessons my friends, there are hoards of romance, unspoken emotions and kindling tension.
One of the things that was done well in this lakorn was the development of the relationship between Athit and Darunee- it was not developed over 2 months or 6 months- but it was developed over a large span of time, years to be exact. They started off on the wrong foot but over time, Athit was able to prove to her that he is worthy of being an elder in her eyes, someone she could trust and respect. But even that doesn’t end the depth of their relationship; they went on and developed full flung love rooted deep within their hearts because they both have gone through so much together over the years. It is a believable love, especially because there’s so much history and realism between them, they cannot express or convince themselves that they are right for each other. Because what if they hook up and things fall apart? Wouldn’t their work at the farm be totally awkward? There’s just a lot more at stake for them than an average relationship. So I appreciated their slow burn, because a love that burns slowly lasts forever as oppose to a love that burns quickly. It was a message buried within the story.
On an individual basis, Darunee grew from being a spoiled brat to a mature, self-sacrificing adult, polar opposites it seems. While Athit remained his hardworking, honest, true self. The difference in their growth is the events that occurred in their lives concurrently. Athit had to grow up quickly when he had to take responsibility over a woman he did not compromise, being the father figure for her child as well as the all-encompassing responsibilities of the farm. Athit was the type of person who made lemonades when given lemons and because of his true character, he is easily the most loved in this drama.
My source of contention lies with Darunee. I like being worried as much as the next person when watching a drama. The suspense of whether two people will end up together always appealed to me, but when the worrying turns into frustration, that’s not a good thing. Although her transition from a perpetual brat to Mother Teresa was done pretty seamlessly over the course of the drama, her likeability factor remained low even towards the end. It just seemed that the main reason why they (Athit and Darunee) couldn’t be together is due in part to her constant internal battle and her attempt to shove her best friend down Athit’s throat. Of course Athit was at fault too, but his case of frustration is mild compared to Darunee. I would prefer a couple experiencing conflict through another source other than their own. I mean, are we supposed to feel sorry for her when she has the man of her dreams in her arms yet she finds ways to give him to somebody else? Also, for a 17 year old, Darunee is portrayed like more of a nuisance 7 year old. Methinks Yaya laid it on a little too thick. Despite it all, her chemistry with Nadech saves the day and makes her irrational behavior somewhat bearable. On a side note, is it me or has Darunee NOT uttered the words “I love you” to Athit, ever, even in the end? I mean actions speak louder than words, but could we have a verbal confession at least? If I were Athit, I would feel totally put out, jibbed.
Not that I’m complaining at the turning of the events, but a few loose strings left me somewhat confused. I realized that Paitoon served as the inciting character, the person that stirred the pot for Darunee to sabotage Athit in the first phase. But as we move to phase 2 and 3 (finale), I noticed that Paitoon repented and he adored Athit. Are we supposed to assume that Athit has earned his trust and devotion, or has grandma’s harsh penalty after the wild banana debacle taught him a valuable lesson? While Thongprasri’s purpose in the lakorn was done well, it invoked a lot of strong emotions from the viewers as well as the cast, and made Athit even more human and worthy of a follow than ever. It also changed the course of Darunee’s behavior, essentially ending her immaturity.
Towards the middle and ending of the lakorn, it is apparent where the conflict lays- Vilai, Vey and Toon- the love interest and the overbearing mom who only wants the match because she’s greedy. Their motives are pretty weak to me, and I wished their characters were more three dimensional, although Toon’s start to flesh out towards the end. I guess we can only appreciate what we are given.
Aside from the spasm worthy couple, we are also given several scenic eye candies: the director captured sceneries and locations that are simply breathtaking. If the commentaries didn’t work, the shots of strawberry farms sitting atop vast rolling hills, rice fields so green and yellow it hurts the eyes, and cabbage farm so delectable, should do the trick. Not only are we taken on a journey through the leading character’s life experiences, we also see growth and development with the land as well, a great way to showcase the time that has gone by. I hope it inspires many people to visit the farmlands!
A radio host once played “Hai Rak Mun Toh Nai Jai” (Let Love Grow Up In My Heart) on the air and she would say sieng gor pror, kon gor lor referring to Nadech, meaning the voice is great and the person is handsome too and I couldn’t agree more! I haven’t enjoyed an OST as much as I did with Torranee, both Nadech and Yaya has done a wonderful job with their songs, all courtesy of Neung Narongvit. Even the score was poignant and sweet, them humming along to their songs, invoking the feelings that were in tuned with the story so perfectly.
Torranee Nee Nee Krai Krong, even with its flaws, has struck a chord with me. I felt a full spectrum of emotions while watching this lakorn: nostalgia, sadness, reverence, frustration as well as elated happiness- not to mention several “sighs” throughout the drama, good and bad ones. The author and director have done many things well, clearly they put in a lot of love, and we are given many things to appreciate. But the most evident is the ongoing chemistry between Nadech and Yaya, because without them, I’m not sure I would enjoy this lakorn so much. I believe they have done their due diligence and met the expectations, exceeding that of the first rendition in 1998. But drama viewing is such a personal undertaking, everyone has such different tastes.
And finally for me, if I were to choose my favorite lakorn among their three collaborations: DuangJai Akkanee, Game Rai Game Rak and Torranee Nee Nee Krai Krong, I would choose Game Rai Game Rak. The gripping tale of Saichon/Charles and Nangfah/Fahlada will forever leave a mark in my heart. Torranee gave me what I needed from a koo-kwan level- the romantic and beautiful scenes- but Game Rai Game Rak satisfied me on an epic love story level.
All in all, Torranee is a beautiful tale from start to finish, and that my friends, is not an easy feat in lakorns. It is the best one I’ve seen this year.
*thanks to Thoranee 2012 and BarryYa FB
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