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Mario's marvellous medicine

Photo by Melalin Mahavongtrakul

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Heart-throb Mario Maurer is back on your TV screen.

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Read the following story by Suwitcha Chaiyong from the Bangkok Post. Then, answer the questions that follow.

Heart-throb Mario Maurer returns in hit show about old-style Thai doctors.

FRESH AND NEW

Traditional Thai medicine is thought by many to be old and outdated. But when Channel 3 decided to use it in the recent period romcom, Doctor Thongek of Ta Chalong, it sparked interest among viewers.

The fresh and unusual storyline drew in both young and old viewers. They were also tuning in because of Thai-German heart-throb Mario Maurer in the lead role. Mario agreed to play Thongek in part because the script contained interesting elements about Thai traditional treatments.

"I discussed the show with the director [Chudapha Chantakate] a long time ago. I wanted to play the character because the script was interesting. It was new and challenging, different from anything I had done before," Mario said.

Doctor Thongek of Ta Chalong tells the story of Thongek, a young man from a family of traditional doctors during the reign of King Rama V. His parents both die during an epidemic and Thongek is then raised by his grandfather.

TRIAL BY FIRE

Mario admitted that he found the role challenging. To help make him look believable, he was coached by Komsan Tinnakorn Na Ayutthaya, a traditional doctor. Mario learned about massage, pressure points, medicinal herbs and how to take a pulse. Audiences were particularly impressed by one scene in which Thongek uses a burning technique -- putting fire on a patient's stomach to cure flatulence.

"That was the most difficult thing. I was nervous while shooting the scene because if I'd made a mistake, I would have burnt [the actor's] stomach."

In the show, Thongek is followed around by Chaba (played by Kimberley Anne Woltemas), an attractive young lady who wants to learn about medicine. 

"It was fun working with Kimberley. No actress could play the role like her. She's hilarious. On set, she liked to make everybody laugh by showing off her funny dance moves," he recalled.

INTERNATIONAL STAR

Mario rose to stardom with his debut movie Love of Siam (2007), Thailand's first film about teen gay romance and the first to show two boys kissing. Despite the fact that Mario's acting was limited, the film brought him huge popularity, not just in Thailand but across Asia, especially in China. His star continued to rise with hits Crazy Little Thing Called Love (2010) and Pee Mak Phrakanong (2013). Now, he packs out venues wherever he goes.

"There were many fans in the Philippines, China and Indonesia. I was thrilled to meet them. I didn't expect to become famous in other countries. The fans wait for me at the airport. On my birthday, they create videos and send them to me," Mario said.

After working in showbiz for more than 15 years, Mario says he has grown professionally. Looking back at the man he was when he started the job, he believes he is more responsible now. However, he regrets not having had the chance to study like other people his age.

Mario realises that he is in a position that many can only dream of achieving. But he doesn't consider himself a success quite yet.

"I don't equate money with success," he said. "Working in showbiz has given me great experiences. But in the future, I would like to have my own business. And I want to continue to perform for as long as I can."

Section 1: Read through the story and answer the following questions. 

1. Which channel is showing Mario’s new show? …………….

2. What nationality is Mario? …………….

3. Who directed the show? …………….

4. The show is set in the time of King Rama IV. True or false? …………….

5. When did Mario make his movie debut? ………….....

6. How do Mario’s parents die in the show?

a. Disease. b. Old age. c. In a war.

7. Where does Mario have more fans? 

a. China. b. Indonesia. c. The story does not say. 

8. What does Mario want to do in the future?

a. Be a business owner. b. Work as an actor. c. Both a and b.

Section 2: Specify whether each of the following words is used in the story as a verb, noun, adjective or adverb. 

9. recent. ……………

10. fire. ……………

11. rose. ……………

12. professionally. ……………

13. dream. ……………

Section 3: Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.

Thongek’s grandfather's talents in medicine make his rivals ….14…. . They slander him and Thongek and his grandfather are forced to ….15…. to a remote area called Ta Chalong. ….16…. there, they work to improve the health of the local people -- physically, emotionally and morally. Thongek learns medicine from his grandfather and ….17…. up with the hope that can help the community become ….18…. and prosperous. However, he ….19…. an ongoing battle with superstition and dark magic.

14. a. envy b. envious c. enviable

15. a. flee b. fled c. flew

16. a. Once b. However c. But

17. a. grown b. grows c. grow

18. a. strength b. strong c. strongest

19. a. face b. faced c. faces

Section 4: Find synonyms in the story for the following words.

20. Different.

21. Trained.

22. Wind.

23. Amusing.

24. Fame.

Answers: 1. Channel 3. 2. Thai/German.  3. Chudapha Chantakate.  4. False.  5. 2007.  

6. a.   7. c.    8. c. 9. adjective    10. noun 11. verb 12. adverb  13. verb 

14. b. 15. a. 16. a. 17. b. 18. b. 19. c.

20. unusual. 21. coached. 22. flatulence.   23. hilarious/funny.   24. stardom. 

SCORE

21-24: Excellent! 17-20: Good.   13-16: Fair.   12 or fewer: You'll do better next time!

Learn from listening

Click "play" to listen to Mario's marvellous medicine and "Download" to keep this file for educational purpose.

Vocabulary:

period drama (noun): a play, movie or book that takes place in a particular historical time, i.e., not the present -

treatment : the process of providing medical care - ????????

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