In the summer of 2009, Ploy Chermarn and Por Thrisadee embarked on a fun, kick off your high heels, dig your feet in the buffalo’s mud romantic comedy lakorn entitled “Phu Yai Lee Gup Nang Ma” (Headman Lee and Ms. Ma) produced by Mam Thitima of No Problem Production. Inside this Channel 3 drama, we have a country boy meets city girl, Lady and the proverbial Tramp type plot. Despite the atypical, overly done up storyline used in many lakorns, “Headman Lee and Ms. Ma” manages to stay authentically upcountry- thanks to Por Thrisadee’s fine Suphan accent- and endear us with a very cute drama with staying power.
Ploy Chermarn portrays Malinee, a supermodel (as she likes to call it) who was raised in the sparkling city of Bangkok with a high rolling life. But this city girl is pretty grounded in her personality, she is kind and generous, which makes her a prey to the city slicker (and notorious douchebag) named Dick, who really epitomizes his name. Malinee is blinded by love and doesn’t see his true colors, despite her friend’s nagging to the contrary. Her convenient life gets turned upside down when she learns that her grandmother Madam Wan in Suphanburi has passed away, leaving her a decision to dutifully keep the farm or sell it to the Mysterious Headman Lee.
Por Thrisadee plays Phu Yai Leenawat who remembers a little girl named Ma whom moved to Bangkok at a young age, and whom he promises to await. It was a silly children’s pinky swear but Headman Lee secretly hopes that she will return. Madam Wan has been like a relative to Headman Lee, and supported him financially through college- and essentially, made him into the man he is today, the village headman. Madam Wan’s dying words were that she had hoped her granddaughter would take over her farm, but that she understood each person has their own calling. Therefore the people in Howling Dog Creek Village were convinced that the city girl would sell the land faster than the older woman’s cremation.
The theme of this 14 episode lakorn appears to examine one’s true calling. Although Malinee enjoys the convenience of a developed city, such as electricity, a rice cooker and simple modern conveniences, Malinee doesn’t seem happy at all in the city. Madam Wan once told Headman Lee that she pitied the girl and she would be correct. Because only through the challenge of learning the ropes of being an adept country girl will Malinee discover true happiness and her own worth/strength. And also, find a soul mate who is worthy of her.
Speaking of this particular soul mate, Phu Yai Lee challenges her growth the most. Perhaps deep down he knew what she is truly capable of. I’ve never been a Por Thrisadee fan. I don’t believe I have seen a Por Thrisadee lakorn that I cared for. But this lakorn is showing Por in a different light, which goes to show that if a character is endearing and well written/performed, one’s mind can easily change. Phu Yai Lee is kind, funny and someone you definitely want to root for. His quirky family, especially “son” Pued is adorable and they play off each other nicely.
I like how Phu Yai Lee gets irritated with her high strung life and doesn’t reveal who he really is to her. So he contrives for Malinee to believe that the irritating man she meets is Phu Yai’s worker, when in actuality she’s staring at the revered Phu Yai Lee himself. This makes for some funny scenes. I think part of Phu Yai Lee deems himself the “tramp” and she the “lady” thus are two worlds apart. He has cared about her since she was little, but now as a full grown woman, she has stolen his heart. And surprisingly (even to him), she is a country girl at heart. It is also important to note that Ploy Chermarn has once again proven herself to be a versatile, relevant actress.
Sometimes it is always the underrated, unexpected lakorns that manage to surprise me.
“Headman Lee and Ms. Ma” also evokes warm memories of “Mr. Farmer and his Hi-So Sweetheart,” if anything, for its similar premise. (And perhaps it is due to being part of the same production.) There are glaring differences but at the end of the day, both warm the heart with a pairing that really works. This makes for a jaunt back into the past a very enjoyable one.