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Metha Lae Mahaniyom and Nok Chatchai, the team and director that brought us several beautifully directed lakorns such as Tawan Deard, Neur Mek 1 and 2, as well as Khun Chai Ronnapee to name a few, has done it again with the stunning picture quality of Chaat Payak starring Top Jaron and Mew Nitha. But eye catching and slick directing aside, this lakorn stands to have a great story at its core.

This story takes place in the historical Rattanakosin Kingdom, towards the latter half of the era. Siam (Thailand) struggles against the colonial powers of the French and Britain, which includes losing some territories, suffering the lives of soldiers as well as compensating money to the foreigners.

In the midst of this era, slavery is in the process of being abolished and our hero’s story, Glaa, begins in this moment in time. Young Glaa is the son of a soldier, however after his father lost his life in a battle, his mother was forced into slavery. Their master wanted her to be his concubine, but she refuses and plots for her son to escape this predicament. Glaa successfully escapes and finds his body floating to Khun Luang Prapisut’s humble abode. From there his life changes, or begins depending on how you see it, and he has not seen his mother since. But Glaa vows to save his mother one day, become a person who is respected and honored as she had instilled in him.

Khun Luang Prapisut takes pity on Young Glaa and raises him as one of the servants in his household. Glaa grows up with Khun Ploy (his boss’ only daughter) and the two are kindred spirits. Their bond is stronger than a friendship as the years go on, Glaa will and would do anything for Khun Ploy, and Khun Ploy sees him as a true friend. In fact, one day when a traveling performance comes to their town, the two plot a way to sneak out to watch it since her parents do not condone this. Their third friend, Bua (who also grew up with them), missed out on this late night endeavor, and she has special feelings for Glaa.

Khun Ploy dresses up as a man to sneak out with Glaa that night, and during the fair, their one on one time makes Glaa even more aware of his feelings towards Khun Ploy, who also starts to notice the spark when she’s in proximity to Glaa. The two have an easygoing camaraderie, respect, and pure joy when they are together. Unfortunately her parents discover that she had sneaked away to the fair and sends reinforcements to protect her. The local town thug and his gang has been butting head with Khun Luang’s head guard and finds an opportunity to even the score. After a tussle, the leader Duang, finds out that Khun Ploy is a woman and he sets his caps on her.

Being a servant with the stigma of a slave, Glaa was never taught to fight by the head guard. He does his best to protect Khun Ploy, but he was no match for Duang or his goonies. Glaa suffers bodily injury and ultimately loses what he cherishes dearly, respect, since he kowtows to Duang as a means to free Khun Ploy. That doesn’t work but eventually the guards from Khun Ploy’s domain rescues them.

Khun Ploy’s mom, Khun Kularp, has resented Glaa from the get-go. She does not condone his friendship with Khun Ploy, or his relationship with her husband. She punishes Glaa for endangering Khun Ploy’s life by demanding he gets 30 beatings. Mien, the head guard is more than happy to carry out the beating because he too has zero respect for Glaa.

Glaa takes the beating like a brave and bold man that he is. Khun Ploy apologizes for causing him harm but also thanks him for protecting her. She tries to offer a reward but Glaa refuses, claiming that if he takes the reward than his action bears no meaning. Khun Ploy sits down at his level and takes his hand. The gentle but lovely interactions between Glaa and Khun Ploy melt my heart. They are innocent and sweet, and I don’t want anything to disturb and change that.

But we don’t get to rest easy with this story.

The fighters/soldiers at Khun Luang Pra’s abode have no respect for Glaa, which makes him feel even more useless since he can’t even protect Khun Ploy. But one day, Glaa rescues an injured, runaway prisoner in the woods. The man is a soldier who was condemned for killing a French man. Perhaps with the kindness of his heart, or he pities the underdog, Glaa tends to the man’s injuries and feed him.

Duang and his gang hide out in the woods to escape the wrath of Mien (Khun Luang’s men). But the longer they hold out, the angrier Duang gets. He finally has had enough and wants to take revenge. They plot to kidnap Khun Ploy and rob Khun Luang. They almost succeed, but as Duang carries Khun Ploy through the woods, the runaway prisoner helps Glaa take down the men and free Khun Ploy. Glaa stares in amazement at the soldier’s deft fighting skills.

What interesting introductions to Glaa’s fiery need to be respected, I am on board this road to redemption. Our underdog fighting his way to gain respect, honor and everything he has lost the moment he was branded a slave. This hero’s road is nothing short of impossible, filled with obstacles. But where there’s a will as brave as Glaa’s, there’s certainly a way.

For a premier episode, it has all the makings of a great lakorn. The cast, directing, writing has me sucked into this story world, leaving me so curious about how it will unfold.

Mew Nitha is absolutely lovely in this lakorn. Her understated makeup and performance as Khun Ploy has me convinced of her character and I understand why Glaa is in love with her. I am craving for more of their story, and I’ll be watching for that spark to turn into a full on flame. And I haven’t even mentioned all of the abs on this show either. Where the heck did Top Jaron come from? The world of eye candy of course.

One aspect that I enjoy most about Metha Lae Mahaniyom and Nok Chatchai is their ability to tell a story without incorporating the typical makings of a lakorn. There are no overacting, exaggeration and downright cardboard box characters. I welcome the depth, the story behind the story. And the slick filming is just icing on the cake.

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Picture credit to owners.

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