Sky Meets Sand (Fah Jarod Sai) is a novel inspired lakorn, based in the vast expanse of the Arabian desert, that conjures up a story seemingly removed from the Thai culture, depicting a far away land, and far away characters, into a world of extremes. It’s not your friendly or mystical Arabian Nights nor Aladdin, but a tale of plots and twists, through the eyes of Michelle De La Roni (Kwan Usamanee), and how she deals with being a deer in the headlights.
Michelle really just wants to belong in this world that has rejected her. Made orphaned after an airplane accident that claimed her parents lives, her Aristocratic French grandparents abandoned her to a convent, due to her mixed heritage, apparently only claiming pure breeds as their own. We are not told whether Michelle is mixed Thai or other Asian, but for all intents and purposes, we’ll assume she speaks French with the cast, since they are non-Thais.
Despite being rejected by her grandparents, she had high hopes that they may somehow and some way still care about her. It’s her defense mechanism, that is until she is faced with the reality that she’s very much alone in this world. Her snooty grandparents derided that they are merely allowing her to use their last name because they were honoring their late son. They wanted nothing to do with her.
So Michelle latches on to the hope of doing something meaningful with her life with her bestie, and rich Middle Eastern girl named Kashfiya (Amie Morakot). They created a dream together (well it’s originally Kashfiya’s idealistic dream that she wants Michele in on) that upon their college graduation in Paris, they would go to her hometown Geysar (in Hilfara) and open a school. It sounds like an equal opportunity program, challenging the patriarchal institution of women. The alternative would be to become a nun at the convent, and perhaps Michelle, herself, isn’t quite ready for that.
And so the madness begins. Leaving her Paris life behind, Michelle enters the world of Arabian desert, Muslim culture and a good friend gone bad. It seems that overnight Kashfiya became the worse friend ever, or undoubtedly the worse woman ever. In her pretentiously large mansion, amidst servants and languish lifestyle, Kashfiya treats Michelle like a servant and someone who should jump when she tells her to, and that she should be lucky enough to befriend such an esteemed person like Kashfiya.
Matters got worse when Kashfiya’s French boyfriend, Robert (Stephen Santi), comes between the two besties. Robert (pronounced the French way, Ro-bere) decides it’s too difficult to date Kashfiya due to their religious and cultural differences. He sets his caps on Michelle instead, who he believes is not only beautiful but has a kind heart. Kashfiya sees red and contrives for her friend to meet her demise: tricking Michelle to dress up as her and confuse the royal guards to offer her to the Raja, King Ahmed’s concubine.
Throughout Kashfiya’s 180 degree change, Michelle was still holding out hope for her friend, hanging on the last thread that her bestie couldn’t be this way. But reality sinks in when she wakes up at a strange palace and realizes that her friend had aimed for her death: because anyone who tricks the royal highness always ends up at the guillotine. Luck or destiny seems to be on her side though, because the royal doctor, also loyal guard Sharif (Tui Teerapat), tells the raja to proceed with caution because she’s a foreigner and that they must do their research before determining her punishment.
And the mysterious Sharif is the man who recurred in her dreams. Her savior, her protector, her protagonist of all that is good. She has seen him at the restaurant before and feels compelled, drawn to him. Now he’s here, in front of her and believing every word she tells him. Despite his amusement of her, she’s grateful for his generosity. He peers at her with a smile, as if she’s not in on the same joke, and cannot stop thinking about her. One thing that draws her to him: her honesty and her absolute loneliness in this world.
Kashfiya literally goes mad when she learns that Michelle did not die. The King’s younger brother Oman usurp the throne from his bro- no brotherly love there- and supposedly kills the royal highness. As for our duo, Michelle and Shalif are thrown together to escape Oman’s wrath and must survive the fierce conditions of the desert- like Shalif said, either die in the desert, or die by the hands of Oman. It’s a no brainer. Michelle on the other hand, had been betrayed by her best friend, completely at the mercy of her host country, and now decides to take the last leap of faith to weather the desert with Shalif- where more conflict and survival of the fittest awaits.
First and foremost, there certainly are a lot of things going on in the plot, and a seemingly lengthy intro to set up the story of how Michelle meets Sharif. We had to witness the falling out of Kashfiya and Michelle, which to me is the most bizarre characterization of the villain, who goes from being a bestie to a vendetta driven psycho with a snap of the fingers. (And is anyone else glad that Kashfiya is out of the radar for the moment? She’s so toxic I could barely unleash my snarl every time she’s on screen.)
Next, Michelle is probably the most docile (docility?) written main character who is in a constant state of perpetual confusion. She has a lot of deer in the headlights syndrome, asking the same questions of ‘why are you doing this to me?’ ‘What did I do wrong?’ And confused with the state of conditions she is thrown in. Granted nothing that ever happened to her was her own doing or her fault, and she tries to make the best of the situation that she’s thrown in, but I would like a more proactive nang’ek (leading girl) and someone who isn’t helpless all the time or waiting for a hero to save her. However, I do like that she’s a straight shooter and hates to lead people on.
Speaking of the hero, Tui does a great job being the mysterious, amused man, and his chemistry with Kwan is certainly there. He’s quite handsome but his character thus far, hasn’t offered fangirling on my end. I’m sure once they step foot into the desert, close proximity and the all encompassing need to survive will bring them together.
‘Fah Jarod Sai’ which translates to ‘Sky Meets Sand’ is referring to the desert sky and sand that seemingly meets but never really does, even as it extends far beyond the eyes could see. In another context, perhaps the heroine is the sky and the hero is the sand, and we’ll have to find out if their love could be realized in the end. Could it be one of those sad endings or seemingly bittersweet ones?
This lakorn is spearheaded by DaraVDO, and has been a work in progress for many years, until it aired on channel 7, and surprisingly hitting a low rating of 8.5 for its premier episode and 8.8 for the subsequent episode. Makes me wonder if people are too busy watching channel 3 (Kaen Saneha) or simply because they aren’t feeling an Arabian night type lakorn? No matter the rating, only you can decide whether it’s your cup of tea.
I personally had a hard time continuing, only because Kashfiya got on my nerves and our girl is too meek and polite. But when Michelle and Shalif meet, they spark my interest and prompt me to continue, out of curiosity. I’m not a fan of the plot or conflict (surrounding a country in upheaval and will probably try to bring the right man back to the throne- when we haven’t been given much depth to the King to feel compelled for him, the way we did for the King in Khun Chai Ratchanon.) But I do like that Michelle can finally meet someone who won’t abandon or betray her in Sharif, because at the end of the day, Michelle is just a girl who wants to be loved and belong.
Fah Jarod Sai also propels me to think about lakorn worlds that I’d like to live in, and it’s definitely not in Hilfara with feminist issues abound, having the worse friend in the whole wide world, or just feeling insulted as a foreigner. On that note, what is your perfect lakorn world- a world where you’d Iike to disappear to?
*pic credit to DaraVDO Facebook. Breathtaking pictures.