Tarm Rak Keun Jai by LakornThai is a story about Nara, known to most as Noona. She has known that her father, Ram, was deceased for 15 years now, but after finishing her college studies, and en route to continue her Masters in the States, Noona comes across evidences revealing that her father may actually be alive. When confronting her difficult, possibly narcissistic mother, she learns that she had been lied to all this time. To think that she could have spent the last 15 years with a father who adored her and showed her unconditional love, a father she had missed everyday, Noona was furious.
Her greatest and weakest strength is dogged determination. When Noona puts her mind to something, she usually succeeds – it is a mindset she learned from her father- and to hell with anyone who stands in her way. Before hailing out of the mansion she calls home and leaving behind wealth, her mother spouts that she will only be disappointed when meeting her father because the man does not love her. Noona dispels that if it is the case, she wants to hear it from the horse’s mouth. She follows the address on a love letter from her father to her mother, which leads her to Bua Khao Farm in Chiang Rai, where she gains employment as a farm worker to be closer to her father, the foreman at the farm.
Not possessed with the most laid out plan, Noona is under the watchful eye of the handsome, rugged farm owner, Khun Singh. He had a previous run in with her at the illegal logging when she unceremoniously got caught up in the gunfire between the baddies and him. So he knew firsthand that she’s possibly trouble. Noona has to do her best to convince Khun Singh and the rest of the farm workers that she is cut out for this job, much to their chagrin. Her frail body and inexperience at the farm made people think that she’s not a good fit – so Noona is tasked with adapting to farm life and finding ways to get to know her father. Because much to her dismay, and as silly as it sounds, Noona was hoping that Ram would recognize her. The older man has not seen his daughter since she was 6 or 7 years old.
Khun Singh is a no nonsense farmer who loved nothing more than his farm and workers. He finds the new worker puzzling because things about her do not make sense. She’s stubborn, does not heed his warnings nor listen to him, and she dared to wager with him every step of the way. But he’s a champion of the underdog, so he gave her the benefit of the doubt, offering her an opportunity to prove herself. He is convinced that she has no idea that farming takes hard work AND capability. He warns her that it will only get harder and she will miss home even more. But every time he counts her out, and every tear she sheds, it was Khun Singh’s undoing. He finds himself smiling even after she’s not in sight, excited by her mere presence, and overwrought about the thought that she could be hurt.
The journey to the farm and meeting her father is harder than Noona anticipated. She never imagined that she would meet her father ever again, and to meet a man who is so different from the man she worshipped at 7. This man once told her that if she put her mind to something, she could accomplish it. But now he is telling her that she should know her own strength, if she overreaches, she may end up doing things she will regret. Little did she know that he is projecting his failures on her, that once upon a time, when he married a very wealthy and beautiful woman, he had committed a crime and lost every thing. He lives with the darkness deep within his heart; emotionally self-destructive and truly believes he doesn’t deserve happiness for the rest of his life. What he doesn’t know is that his daughter is standing before him, doing everything she could, to slow the time down so she could cherish the father she thought she had lost forever.
Confessing her real identity will become the central plot in this lakorn, since Noona wants so badly to reunite with her father, but at the same time, she is so afraid that he won’t love her – just as her mother told her. Every time she tries to confess to her father, she finds reasons that she shouldn’t. Ram happens to be the irresistible man on campus, the female workers and even the Boss Lady “Nong” have a crush on him. During an altercation, Ram spats that he despises having a family. He does not want a wife nor child. Noona is disheartened at first, but she persevered, hoping that he didn’t mean what he said. She remains staunched that the father in her memory is still there.
The better question remains, how will Noona react when she finds out her father’s dark history? Her mother’s side of the family is convinced they will be ruined (reputation wise) if the past gets rehashed. The mystery shrouded in the past (is he really a murderer?) will be revealed throughout the light hearted, fun story as we watch Noona and Khun Singh go head to head, and like the farm workers, place bets on who will win this flirty, adorable battle of the wills.
I love our spunky, sympathetic heroine. A girl’s just trying to find her daddy, despite wreaking havoc everywhere. You want to root for her to succeed at the farm once and for all, and prove everyone wrong, but we cringe along with her when she inevitably messed up, because we know deep down she has her heart in the right place. Perhaps it’s not about the prize, but it’s about what you learn along the way. She has the guts to admit when she fails (and epically) even our hero is taken aback and mentally has to restrain himself from giving in. For example he had asked her why she would want a hard and tough life on the farm when she could do something easier (like working at the resort). She flipped the question on him and asked if he would take a job if it means having easy work and life. Khun Singh retorted automatically that he would not choose an easy life because the farm is his life and he loves it. Noona explained that she feels the same way. This job means more to her than he could ever imagine and she would do anything to stay. She hits you at the feels.
What I love about LakornThai production is the story world – you really feel like you’re part of the lakorn. The farm came to life, the characters are rich and funny. Not to mention, our hero is legitimately dreamy. He cares about his country (fights illegal logging), has a soft spot for underdogs (gave Ram a job when no one would), he’s sweet when he doesn’t think he is (holds Noona when she was afraid of needles) and a great boss who truly cares for his employees. It’s no wonder I am already rooting for him to fall for Noona, because it would mean she gets to experience love in a different way. She deserves so much love, especially having a difficult mother like Raksamee, who cares only about herself.
The drama will ensue once Raksamee learns Noona isn’t like her – that she won’t crawl back home at the drop of a hat when she runs out of money. Not much has been given regarding the backstory of Ram and Raksamee, we know that there was love from Ram’s perspective, and he still thinks he has only one true love in Raksamee. He doesn’t want to open his heart again, despite the sweet Khun Nong secretly in love with him, and the mean Raksamee who hates his guts. He wants to live in misery because he believes he deserves it. I want to see him feel self worthy again because he seems like a great guy. I hope the love from his daughter and from Khun Nong could help heal the past.
The pairing of Nadech Kugimiya and Mew Nittha works very well not only because they look great together, but their portrayal of Khun Singh and Noona are believable and delightful. I simply love how their romantic story is developing – and cannot wait to see more. Khun Singh is going to eat out of her hands at the rate we’re going!
Perhaps Tarm Rak Keun Jai – Pursue Love Back to the Heart – is the lakorn I’ve been waiting for. It’s been a long time since I look forward to each episode or fall in love with the characters and story this much. If you’re looking for a lighthearted, but emotionally stirring lakorn, this one is for you. Like an easy to read novel, this page turning story will have you coming back for more, and smiling long after the credits roll.
Tarm Rak Keun Jai currently airs on Channel 3, Mon-Tues timeslot.