Veteran director, actor, and Yellow Shirt activist, Saranyu “Tua” Wongkrajarng, 51, is currently directing the musical Lang Ka Daeng, about a sane man committed to a mental hospital. Here he talks politics, box office flops and the dismal state of our entertainment industry.
I would draw every day and on everything I could find. I never thought that my passion for drawing could become a career until I learned what architecture was all about.
Like other typical parents at the time, mine wanted me to be a doctor. However, it was out of the question once I discovered that I was so afraid of blood. They understood my fear, and wanted me to be an engineer instead.
It was difficult to picture what the future would look like at the time when I began college. People had such little understanding of how a degree could contribute to a specific career.
No one, including me, really studied what they eventually ended up doing. I chose to study architecture because it was the best compromise between art and science.
The architecture faculty’s acting club introduced me to what ultimately became the biggest part of my college life. After my third year, I knew that I didn’t want to be an architect.
An architect’s main job is to convince people, to influence people’s taste. And I knew I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it. However, I think I tried to find issues with being an architect because my heart wasn’t in it anymore.
I was definitely discouraged by the movie Khon Khon’s low gross. But despite the disappointment, I have come to understand today’s society.
There’s no point in explaining to people that my work has nothing to do with politics. Instead, my work now focuses on a smaller group of people, who care about my work for the work itself, and not because of other factors. That’s how the musical project Lung Ka Dang came along.
I used to be devastated when my movies didn’t break even in the past. Experience has taught me to be a stronger person, to find the cause of the problem and to seek a way to solve it instead of just crying my eyes out.
To me, success is when people receive the messages I send through the art I have created. In art, you cannot bluntly say what you want to say. People need to be able to pick up on the messages themselves.
Being both a director and a producer of Khon Khon limited my ability to create the work I had imagined it to be. In Thailand, there aren’t any studios that give a director the freedom to present his messages through his art without having to worry about the business aspect. It isn’t my job to care about whether the movie will make money—that’s a producer’s job.
To live with purpose, you need to accept the consequences of your decisions. I never thought that being involved in a political situation would affect my acting career. But once it did, I asked myself if I still have the same standpoint as when I first joined; and I do. In order to live a good life, I must stand for what I believe in.
Fame does not always come from talent in today’s media industry, but from marketing strategies—how good you are at promoting yourself. In a society where everyone follows or copies everyone else, a few powerful people get to set trends and choose the fate of actors.
The industry gets increasingly narrow-minded every day. Horror and comedy movies keep coming out one after the other because it is the trend and brings in the most money. People continue to do what makes the most money, without considering whether they have sent useful messages to the public.
I want to have an education center, where I can teach little kids about acting. I want to pass on my artistic vision as it has been overlooked. I believe that the business aspect, which draws people’s attention to this industry, should be significantly less emphasized.
My children are my happiness. They are the only treasure that I have created, taken care of, and raised to be valuable assets for society.
I don’t force my family to have the same beliefs as me because I know I’m not always right. However, for a better understanding of each other, I insist that we discuss our standpoints to make sure our decisions are rational.
I believe in karma and the cause and effect of every action. It is the best explanation to life. In order to control your actions, you must first understand yourself. It helps me lead a conscious life.