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I just finished watched a Thai lakorn called Leh Nangfah, which means Angel Magic or Fairy Magic. The drama starred Thai actress, Vill (full name View Wannarot Sontichai) as Lallalit/Beauty, our heroine, and Push (full name Put Puttichai) as our hero, Teepob.
This was my first Thai lakorn ever, although I have seen some videos of the famous Thai lakorn genre, slap/kiss, and hadn’t been too impressed. In contrast, Leh Nangfah was a rom-com with a zany premise and it quickly pulled me in . The drama is about one woman’s journey from being the spoiled brat she is to a mature, lovable human being.
The drama begins with the heroine, Beauty, showing her true character to the audience. She is a narcissist, who only cares about her looks and her needs. In the beginning, we see her spending hours getting a sun tan, and firing a staff person for allowing a bird on her property. In those few minutes, we see not only her selfishness, but her ability to be terrifyingly destructive in her behavior to others.
We soon discover that she lost her mother as a young child. She was a horrible brat as a child to the other kids she knew. She also has a phobia of birds, due to an accident that caused her father’s death while she was a college student. We also see that despite her hateful behavior, she has a loyal servants, such as her Aunt Jan, and family, like her Uncle Korn, to support her.
Additionally, she has her mother, who is an angel in heaven, worried about her trajectory into a person who no one could love. Beauty’s mother asks the goddess to help her teach her daughter how to be a better person. And the goddess acquiesces.
In teaching Beauty this lesson, she curses her. The curse will only disappear when Beauty can 1) think about benefiting others before herself and do so for 3 consecutive hours, 2) do twice the amount of good deeds than the bad deeds she has committed, and 3) be kissed by the man that she loves more than her own life. She is given a magical amulet. For every bad deed she does, the magical amulet will darken, turning black. When she does good deeds, the amulet will turn golden.
If the amulet turns completely dark, she will eternally remain a bird. If she cannot accomplish all three missions within 3 months, she will eternally remain a bird.
Beauty is understandably angered by this, especially when she has spent her life getting everything she wanted and having complete control over everything. Her first night as a bird makes her realize all of the hardships she will have to go through. She cannot find her way home. She cannot feed herself or drink water. She has to deal with her alien body. The next morning she wakes up in her own body and cries over the ordeal she has suffered. Once she takes the curse seriously, she quickly calls over her friends to give them her belongings, hoping to get some points for doing that. She then pulls random male friends into her garden and has them kiss her. The goddess has to remind her of the rules and tell her that her efforts have been wasted thus far, since she is not getting into the spirit of things.
While Beauty is being cursed, we also get a glimpse of the people around her. We have the servants in Beauty’s home, who all pretty much hate her, except for Jan and Pon, who are loyal to her. We have her Uncle Korn, who supports her and pities her as the lost little girl she is, and seems to favor her more than his own daughter Pat. We have her cousin, Pat, who hates Beauty for all of the pranks Beauty played on her and belittling comments Beauty made to her when she was a child. We meet Teepob, who is the son of a close family friend and co-president of Thanabavorn, the company created by Beauty’s father and Teepob’s father. We see Nong Orn, the daughter of a rich family and Teepob’s kinda/sorta girlfriend. And Jadecharn, a business rival and the guy angling for both Nong Orn (because he likes her) and Beauty (for business reasons).
Upon overhearing a conversation between her uncle and a mysterious man regarding their planned treachery to steal her company, Beauty decides to take her rightful place as co-president of Thanabavorn. She asks Teepob to train her, but he refuses. When he finally says yes, he puts her to work at the lowliest jobs, intending on training her for the job from the bottom up. The condition is that if she cannot obey everything he says, then she will have to leave.
Beauty does not take the training seriously, and is unrepentant when she makes mistakes. It is only under the tutelage of an older worker, Aunt Seenuan, does she begin to work hard. She learns how to do things properly, and sees that employees may have concerns outside of their work, as well. She actually begins to think of others, and works hard at her job.
Her cousin, Pat, decides to get her fired, refusing to have someone like that be president of the company. When both Beauty and another worker are accused of accepting damaged goods, costing the company money, Beauty investigates, swearing to clear their names. Once she discovers evidence of Pat’s wrongdoing, she plans on humiliating Pat in front of the factory workers by making her apologize. But under Seenuan’s teachings, she lets it go, deciding to play with Teepob instead.
Throughout her nightly transformations, Beauty has been going to Teepob to eavesdrop about the day’s business or his thoughts on her in her human form. She also goes there for comfort and companionship. Initially, she was brought to Teepob’s home by the goddess, but the warmth she receives there keeps her coming back.
Teepob then moves Beauty over to a outlet located in Hua Hin to practice her sales techniques undercover. While she is a horrible salesperson at first, it is only when she meets the goddess disguised in human form that she begins to show some compassion and make her first sale. Pretty quickly though, Beauty’s secret comes out and she is forced to leave the outlet and come back to Bangkok.
Teepob and Beauty seem to grow closer, as she continues to grow. You can see that he is attracted to her, as they spend the day together after Pat’s truth comes out. He gets to see another side of her, and realizes there is more to her than he thought as they discuss how to improve the workers’ lives. When he sees bruises on her body in Hua Hin, he is worried and counsels her to dump the man who is abusing her. When he sees her with Jadecharn, he is disturbed, although he does not realize the real reason.
When Beauty comes back to Bangkok, she works in the sewing department of the company. Due to her constant fighting with Pat, Aunt Seenuan is injured. As Teepob comforts her at the hospital, the two have a moment of awareness before she quickly leaves. In order to make amends, Beauty takes her and her family into her home, promising to support them. Teepob witnesses this and is gratified by her generosity.
Beauty then begins work in the design department, under Pat. She impresses Teepob when one of her designed uniforms is chosen by a client. Although she has moments of clumsiness and idiocy, she still manages to impress and come through at the last minute. When her designs are stolen (by Pat) and then sold (by a disgruntled employee, Piwara) to the competition, she discovers who did the stealing by using her bird form.
Throughout the drama, Beauty’s curse creates problems for her. Regardless of where she is or what she is doing, she has to be home or in a safe place before her transformation, which she is unable to do sometimes. This failure then causes her to turn human in places without her clothes. The curse has also lead her to be almost sexually assaulted by human and bird males, not to mention the number of outfits/cellphones/purses she has lost due to her last minute transformations. People begin to find out, one by one, that she transforms every night into a bird. Pat finds out and then uses that knowledge to blackmail Beauty into leaving Thanabavorn and Teepob. In one of her investigative forays, Beauty gets caught in Jadecharn’s home, and is found naked and in his arms by Teepob. And when Beauty is unable to tell him anything about why she was found that way, it creates a distance between the two.
Despite all of the problems she faces because of her curse, Beauty is able to solve the mystery of who sold the designs, and becomes closer to Pat. The two forgive each other for their idiotic behavior, especially after Beauty finally learns how much her behavior hurt her cousin down at soul-deep level, and apologizes for her behavior. Teepob also realizes how much he likes Beauty when he sees her in Jadecharn’s arms, and breaks up with Nong Orn because he sees her as a sister. Eventually, Beauty and Teepob reconcile. She promises to tell him the truth once they find out who the traitor is in their company, which she quickly does and that employee is fired.
And then Beauty discovers another truth. Both Teepob and her Uncle Korn were conspiring to takeover the company. She is heartbroken. She rushes off, unable to believe that the man she loves is a betrayer.
As Teepob follows and begs her to forgive him, he finally discovers her truth. She transforms in front of him, and he finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together of the bird beauty and his Beauty. He also realizes that even if that is her reality, he will only ever love her. He goes to her and explains that this was all just a scheme to bring her to her rightful place in the company. No one ever intended to steal Thanabavorn from her.
Beauty’s weakness is when people fail to be upfront or sincere with her. When they lie, she cannot forgive them. Beauty’s intolerance and pride keep her from overcoming the final obstacle and getting a kiss from her love. It is only with Pat’s counsel, that she can admit her readiness to forgive him. She will do so after the fashion show. Piwara, the disgruntled employee, comes to the fashion show and shoots at Teepob, but Beauty jumps in front of him, taking the shot and proving that she does love him more than her own life.
Everyone who knows her secret is worried whether the bird will be able to bear the pain of a gunshot wound. Teepob kisses Beauty while at the hospital, hoping to halt her transformation. With that kiss, her curse is lifted.
Months later (after she has healed), Teepob proposes to her. We discover that he liked her when they were kids; those feelings just went away when she turned into a spoiled brat. The two get married and have a cute little son 3 years later. And Beauty becomes the biggest fashion designer of Thailand, appearing on many different magazines as her star rises.
The drama was an enjoyable watch, and I would give it a 7 out of 10.
The Good Things . . .
. . . the romance.
I loved the romance between Beauty and Teepob. A romance story is the biggest draw for me, and Teepob’s falling for Beauty and Beauty’s falling for him were beautifully done. The two both fought their emotions. Teepob’s fascination with Beauty was there from almost the beginning. Beauty was so involved in her own worries, that it took a while for her to appreciate the man that he was. And Teepob’s realization coming with him seeing her in another man’s arms was very realistic, as was his pain and then reconciliation with her. The two loved each other, and with that came trust on his part. She took a little longer getting there, but in the end, she was able to trust him, as well.
The two’s interactions when Beauty was in her bird form were also a treat to watch. You know that Beauty fell in love with him partly because of his treatment and care of her as a bird. The scenes where he teased her about showering together, when she cried on his chest, and he found and comforted her in the rain were beautifully done.
. . . Beauty’s growth.
Beauty’s growth as a character was also a treat to watch. We saw this woman grow from a spoiled child into a mature woman, who thought about others before herself.
She had to go through many trials and tribulations, including getting shot, to actually become a better human being. She became empathetic. She used her wealth for good. And lived her life, being productive and having a career. She became a designer, using her degree, rather than spending her time modeling and partying. Beauty began to think before acting, and saw how she had hurt others with her behavior. She apologized for her mistakes to those that she could, and took care of the ones still in her life.
I liked her as a human being by the end of the show.
. . . Teepob.
Teepob was a wonderful character. He was a dutiful son. He was a good employer. He was a good trainer, despite the enjoyment he might have gotten from her suffering in a small way. He was an animal lover.
The one area where he failed was as the boyfriend, but the one he loved was Beauty. Even without realizing that truth, he was taking care of her as a boyfriend should. When he saw Beauty in another man’s arms, he realized his feeling and broke up with Nong Orn immediately, thus showing how he was good in not wanting to lead Orn on. And he was sorry for the hurt he had caused.
I liked him throughout the show, and I’m sure all of us would wish for a boyfriend like that in their lives.
. . . The Acting.
Both Vill and Push did a great job with their characters.
Vill jumped into her character so wholeheartedly. She was able to go from freaking out over Teepob being naked to depression at her fate from episode to episode. I loved the scenes of her as the bird, because her facial expressions were a delight to watch.
Push had the easier job, but he played the straight man to her zany character ably. In the scenes where he found Beauty in Jadecharn’s arms, one could see the pain in his eyes. When he was playing with Beauty, you could see how impressed/turned on he was by her proximity and her sassiness.
The two played off each other, and it was fun to watch all of their scenes together. This does have to come with the caveat that I don’t speak Thai, so I could have missed a lot in the acting.
The Okay . . .
. . . The Other Man/Other Woman
I liked how the drama constructed Jadecharn and Nong Orn.
Nong Orn was dating Teepob at the beginning of the drama. But she wasn’t a crazy other woman, who ran down the main lead for her own interests. She was very nice, and kind of a daddy’s girl. While Teepob constantly disappointed her, she never acted out. When he broke up with her, she accepted it and stepped back.
JadeCharn pursued Beauty half-heartedly for business reasons, but never really wanted her. The one he truly wanted was Nong Orn. He took care of her when she was down. Teased her when she was moody. And understood her in a way that Teepob did not. When Teepob broke up with her, JadeCharn comforted her.
And the two ended up dating, freely admitting that they were never really their true selves around the main leads.
The Bad . . .
. . . Pat
While I could understand her anger at Beauty, what I could not understand was how she could be a professional, love Thanabavorn and still act the way she did.
Pat deliberately destroyed company material and then tried to destroy the evidence. She went down, during work hours, to a sales outlet to create trouble for Beauty. She revealed the truth about Beauty to all of the employees and spread rumors about Beauty firing Seenuan after Seenuan’s accident made her unable to work. She stole Beauty’s designs. She constantly pulled her staff away for personal missions of revenge, rather than allowing them to do their work. It took me half the drama to realize what Kratua, one of her staff people, actually did.
And yet, she was only ever suspended? Why the heck was she not fired after her first act of idiocy?
. . . Too Much Detail . . . and Too Little Detail.
Finally, the drama took too long to actually get to the point. There was too much fighting shown between Pat and Beauty. Too many scenes with Nong Orn’s dad angered over Teepob’s behavior. Too many scenes of Pat plotting against Beauty or fighting with her dad. Too many scenes with Beauty transforming. Too many scenes of Piwara smirking or Kratua freaking out. They could’ve easily cut out 8 to 10 episodes of this kind of stuff without losing any of the important bits.
And there was not enough focus on the dangers that Beauty’s curse brought on her, because it clearly did. Not enough time spent on the psychological impact this nightly transformation caused; we only saw glimpses. Not enough detail on how this change and subsequent damage affected Beauty’s body; we were the pain she went through when transforming, and 2 seconds later she was fine?
. . . . . . . .
Ultimately, I liked this drama a lot more than I thought I would. The premise is out of a fairy tale, but it was still fun to watch as an adult. Beauty got her prince charming, and evil was vanquished. I would highly suggest you watch it if given the chance. 🙂