Battle of Remake: Ngao Asoke

T H E    N O V E L  
One of the windows facing the front road opened without the slightest noise. A hand slowly broke open a beautifully patterned blind. 
The hand was endowed with long, slender fingers with delicate skin. Thin, clean nails with a natural pink tint. When the blind’s hook was done on both sides, the owner of the hand, a timid-looking woman, could not leave the spot. 
She stood leaning against the window frame, looking out to watch the Ashoka tree in the yeard as she recalled another Ashoka from which she had been away for a whole ten years — without ever having any idea when she would have some hope of seeing it again. 

The novel Ngao Asoke (เงาอโศก) was written by Chuwong Chayachinda (ชูวงศ์ ฉายะจินดา) and published in the year 1975. 
T H E     A D A P T A T I O N S 
 T H E  G E N E R A L    P L O T 
The story starts when Monthai is going to live in Australia to pursue his study. He is the only son to his mother Tuptim and womanizing father. Because of this, his mother is very paranoid and protective of Monthai as she wishes for him to not walk on the same steps as his father. 

Her constant scoldings and warning off of a servant girl, Lakkana, causes a rift between the mother and son. Things worsen when Lakkana commits suicide, and Monthai decides to leave the country and cut his family off.  

Years pass and Tuptim’s trauma from Lakkana’s death worsens. In her pain and lucidity, she calls for Viyada, Monthai’s fiancee, to come and take care of her. Viyada, however,  doesn’t want to take care of her future mother-in-law, so she sends her servant, Bpeeyachat instead. 

However, Monthai comes back to Thailand earlier than expected. When he sees Bpee taking care of his mother under the guise of his fiancee, he misunderstands her as an opportunist and begins to mistreat her. Will he ever find out the truth?

Year: 1999
Episodes: 13
Duration:  1hr 30min
Year: 2008
Episodes: 31
Duration:  0hr 45min
Year: 2016
Episodes: 19
Duration:  1hr 0min
T O    P O T E N T I A L    V I E W E R S 
I 100% recommend these dramas to you. 

That is if you are still interested after reading these things.
In all three dramas, either the plot was set in an era where patriarchy greatly flourished, or the drama was produced in a year when patriarchy still greatly flourished. Please know that man-handling the FL  comes with that scenario. The ML doesn’t rape the female lead but many of you would define his grabbing and kissing the frightened, submissive FL out of jealousy — without explicit consent — as sexual harassment (me, too).

Secondly, while this is mostly glossed over, the second female lead, Viyada, gets drugged and taken advantage of (raped) by Ketchai. While this scene is not shown in the classic “Please don’t, please don’t” format, we are all adults (I hope so) and know that getting someone drunk and then having sex with them… deserves jail time + time in hell. 

If you can enjoy dramas despite these two things — I 100% recommend this to you. Just FYI — 1999 is the most progressive and drama-free, and 2008 is the most intense. 

Happy watching!

T H E    D I F F E R E N C E S
a subjective discussion on the differences between the three versions 
T H E    C H A R A C T E R S 
The 1999 version of Bpeeyachat played by Arisiya was a well-mannered, sincere teacher. She was the most accomplished out of the three Bpeeyachat’s and also the most verbal in front of the ML. She was calm and dignified, but did not feel afraid to speak back to the ML and often expressed herself in a mature and well-put manner. Some of the things she said to the ML were things I was yelling from this side of the screen. There was never a time in the 13 episodes where I was ever angry or ashamed of this Bpeeyachat. 
The 2008 version of Bpeeyachat played by Peung was soft-spoken and innocent. She was a personal servant of Viyada and while she had no other profession, it was shown that she had received an education. She was the Bpeeyachat that had the most believable relationship with ML’s mum. She was also a doormat, and although would attempt to, but could never win against the passionate and thundering ML.  Out of the three, this Bpeeyachat is the one I felt the emotions of. This is also the Bpeeyachat I will probably remember for a long time. 
The 2016 version of the Bpeeyachat played by Esther was also sweet and gentle. However, I felt her personality and facial expressions were the most comical out of the three Bpeeyachats. While she had courage and spunk, it could never match that of the 1999 Bpeeyachat’s, and while she was gentle and innocent, it could never match the 2008 Bpeeyachat. My impression of her is that she’s youthful and her expressions are child-like. She is the Bpeeyachat with the worst hairstyle, and also the one I have the least affection for. 
The 1999 version of Monthai played by Sarasook is the smartest version of Monthai. He had his eyes open and his brain was well oiled. “Love is blind” definitely was never the quote for him. He was able to see the difference between the woman that was in front of him and the one he had felt through the letters.  After his mother died, he was also intelligent enough to investigate his mother’s death objectively and figure out Viyada’s plans. Another thing that I loved the most about this Monthai was just how decisive he was about who he loved. Once he figured out who he loved, he took charge and never intended to keep stringing both along. Ah, and this Monthai was very pro-PDA. He’s probably the most secure of the three. There was no wavering, no second guesses, and I loved it!
The 2008 version of Monthai… ah the 2008 version of Monthai… (´♡‿♡`)
If anyone had to take the cup for the most passionate embodiment of Monthai, it would be the 2008 version of Mon played by Pong.  He was fiery and possessive of Bpeeyachat but blinded by the loyalty and devotion of the letters he thought were written by the woman he called his fiancee. You could visibly see how attracted he was to Bpeeyachat, and you could also understand just why he was still with Viyada. He wasn’t the brightest Monthai though, actually, he was the one that worked with his emotions rather than his brain.  That could come across as really annoying, especially towards the finale. However, In the end,  he is the Monthai I have a soft spot for and will remember until I grow grey. 
The 2016 version of Monthai played by Sean is the most lukewarm version of Monthai. Neither was he as intelligent as the 1999 version nor was he all that passionate like the 2008 version. I’ll give it to him though, he was second in line when it came to the Monthai with the most active brain cells. After his mother’s death, he also investigated without blatantly pushing Bpee towards the jail cell. 
However, I don’t know if this was the directive or if Sean wasn’t able to — but when Monthai was jealous in this version, he seemed more childish and cute… as opposed to being fierce and passionate. All the “bullying” and “jelly” scenes seemed more like a 15-year-old bad boy harassing his crush with this naughty smirk. Overall, he was quite forgetful…  
The 1999 version of Viyada played by Jamie was the most 3D, human-like version of Viyada. You saw her change and evolve into what she ended up being in the end. When Monthai wrote in saying he was going to stay in Australia for longer, she cried before angrily throwing him away. This showed that she had genuine feelings for him at one point. Around the middle arc of the drama, when she saw all the men who once paid her attention slowly begin to find their happiness, we see her desperation and need to cling onto the last sense of validation. Men desiring her makes her feel wanted, and important. So she began to grasp onto Monthai even more. When she realized that the only thing standing in the way of her and Monthai (and his money) is his mother, and the only she can deal with this is to kill Tubtim, we see her be afraid at the first and only resort to it until she felt extremely desperate and impatient.  This Viyada was also the most reckless and true to self. She spoke however she wanted about people she didn’t like this was not something she hid from Monthai carefully.  Out of all the three versions, I think I understood her mind best. 
The 2008 version of Viyada played by Panward was the craziest form of Viyada. She was very 1D, and I could not get into her brain. She was evil, plain and simple. Was she attached to Monthai? I don’t think so. The lack of clarity about her thought process was what gave her an increased narcissistic and evil air. Unlike the 1999 Viyada, she killed people because she wanted someone gone. While killing Ketchai was unintentional, she wanted to kill Bpee knowingly. The same was seen with Monthai’s mother. She was never afraid of anything except getting caught by Monthai. She was extremely loud and volatile in a more chaotic sense. While the 1999 Viyada came out as spoilt and with some psychological shadows causing her behavior to be this way, the 2008 version simply came off as crazy. 
The 2016 version of Viyada played by Grand was about the same as the 2008 version but scarier. She also had her little differences in personality and behaviour. This Viyada was shown to be more aware of her beauty. This showed that she was a lot vainer. She was also a lot more jealous and competitive, so much so that it extended towards her younger sister. She did not enjoy it even when her younger sister was complimented for being pretty.  Out of all the three Viyadas, I felt that she was the most dangerous. This is in a sense that her psychology was the most …frightening. She was also much craftier when she plotted Tubtim’s murder as she drugged not only Monthai and Bpee but also herself to look innocent. 2008 Viyada was a chaotic dumb evil. 1999 Viyada was a moody, troubled evil. But 2016 Viyada? She was the calculative evil. And this type of evil… frightens me the most. 
The 1999 version of Tubtim played by Patravadi was endearing and not as bad as the other two versions. I say this because her entire setting was different. In the 1999 version men having extramarital affairs, while not sought after by wives, was tolerated to a greater degree. While to her friends she said that she allowed it as it gave her enough time to relax and not get tired by her husband’s “needs”, the 1999 Tubtim still did not want her son to be like his father. This Tubtim also did not physically assault Lakkana as much a the other two versions and had a lighter hand at the girl’s suicide. Moreover, she was also shown to be kinder as she had a habit of donating things to children in need (she donated a bag to Bpeeyachat). When this Tubtim was ill, she behaved more as if she was possessed than she was ill to be very honest. It almost made me scared. This Tubtim died in the hospital
The 2008 version of Tubtim played by Karnjana, while very foul in the beginning, was the Tubtim I felt had the most convincing relationship with Bpeeyachat. I could see with my eyes that she saw Bpee as her child. I also enjoyed her dynamics with Aunt Jian the most.  Her performance during her illness was the most solemn out of the three. She did not act as if she was possessed like the 1999 Tubtim, neither did she regress into a spoilt child jumping around and throwing temper tantrums like the 2016 Tubtim. She was just… sad, and depressed, and slightly out of her mind because of her grief.  Unlike the 1999 Tubtim, this Tubtim was not able to find her son harassing Bpee quite as well. Although when she did know — the usual “You must marry Bpeeyachat” arc did arrive. While I believe the 1999 Tubtim left Bpeeyachat a house,  the 2008 Tubtim left her nothing. My memory is foggy, but I believe this Tubtim died in her bedroom. Overall, I think I loved this Tubtim just as much as I loved the other two versions. 
Savitree played the 2016 version of Tubtim and from the beginning, it was visible how she was different from the other two Tubtims. I remember watching her first scene and thinking that she’s just generally strict when it comes to Monthai. The 1999 and 2008 Tubtims were fairly indulging except when it came to their son’s interaction with girls. The 2016 Tubtim on the other hand was just a strict mother, demanding her son to arrive on time and do this and that. This Tubtim was also just as ruthless to the maid’s daughter if not more, than the 2008 version. Unlike the other two, she grew child-like and spoilt when she lost her mental health and danced and jumped around on her step-son, thinking that he was Monthai. By the end, I was greatly fond of her as well. As for how she died, this version of Tubtim died in the backyard, and it was quite sad to see the entire process. 
T H E    P L O T 
Aiya, let’s get to this! I would like to say this first: I do believe that the 1999 version is the OG version. Then came 2008 and the producers decided to completely producers decided to re-do the drama in a completely new and typical to that time’s melodrama vibe. Then 2016 rolled by and the new producers remade the 2008 version. 
Therefore, the 2016 and 2008 versions can be grouped on one side while the 1999 version can sit on a sofa on the other side of the room. I can not be too sure which version is the closest to the novel. However, I can tell you this — as hilarious as this sounds, the oldest version of this drama is the most progressive in many matters hahaha. Things like status, wealth, parentage, etc, weren’t that much of a big deal in the 1999 version. 
I suppose it can also be because the 1999 Ngao Asoke was set in that same year of its release, that is 1999. Unlike the two newer versions which were set as a period drama, occurring somewhere around the 1970s or 1980s. 
Side couple
Other than Monthai and Bpee (and well Viyada and Ketchai because we do not speak about that) there are two other couples in these dramas and they are:
  1. Mon (Monthai’s stepbrother) and Vipawarn (Viyada’s younger sister)
  2. Pong-in and Namwad (Bpee’s friend/teacher)
Now, in the 1999 versionMon x Vipawarn were very naturally placed with not much detail or drama given to them. They were together since the beginning of the drama and it was a known and established fact to the audience as well as the characters.  Likewise, Pong-in and Namwad, who had a little bit more depth than the former couple, easily were able to get back together once they talked it out and there wasn’t much tension in that area.

In 2008, the producers decided to change everything. They decided that both side couples need more time… and more drama. That is why, Mon x Vipawarn now had an entire outline and backstory about how although Vipawarn was in love with Mon, but Mon could not accept the relationship because he was a mistress’ son while Vipawarn was a government official’s legitimate legal wife’s daughter. It was an entire origin and status battle that the pair had to overcome and the audience was shown how their love story progressed and they found their happy ending in the end. 

On the other hand, Pong-in and Namwad were given their spotlight when another supportive character called Setthi was suddenly made the third party in the equation. This meant that there were more misunderstandings and more angst that Bpee had to help soothe to get the two together (while inducing Monthai’s jealousy). In the end, they too found their happy ending.

The 2016 version was just about the same as the 2008 version. The only major difference was that the 2016 Vipawarn was an absolute brat and I could not for the life of me, form any sort of liking towards her.

I thought I would have a lot more to say in this section, but surprisingly … that’s not the case. I can summarise the romance in a very short and simple way.  The romance in the 1999 version was a romance between two individuals at almost the same level.  I suppose this was because Bpee was a respectable teacher and member of society. This is why even though Monthai tried to pull the “servant” angle once, he was quickly put down when two of his friends came over one and very respectably spoke to Bpee by calling her “Teacher Bpeeyachat” and telling her that their nieces missed her. I liked how they were on the same level as each other. 

The romance in the 2008 version was incredibly passionate and 1980s mills and boon-worthy. A love story between a pure and innocent maid and her benefactor who just happened to be the fiancé of her “owner”. This romance was like sitting beside the sea and watching the angry waves crashing against the big black rocks at a distance. You saw Monthai fall for Bpee with the way he reacted to things related to her as opposed to Viyada. But you also saw just how desperately Bpee wanted to show her gratitude to them and make them understand that she was not scheming or ungrateful like Monthai and Viyada always screamed at her to be. Therefore I went between wanting Bpee to just run away and Bpee and Monthai just being together happily.

The romance in the 2016 version was child-like and a lot more humorous. It didn’t give me the “serious” or “mature” feel like the two previous versions. It was something I had not expected to be honest because I had seen Sean and Esther in Leh Ratree where they had an equally if not more of a tense role.  Over here even if Sean was supposed to be angry, it appeared to me as if he was pretending to be mad and was just teasing her subconsciously. I guess, in the end, the romance was so-so for me. 
Alright, so the version of Ngao Asoke that I first watched was the 2016 version, as I was a fan of the Sean and Esther pair. I have since rewatched it after watching the other two versions, in an attempt to be more clear about my opinions for this article. 

In the 2016 version Bpee just up and left with Pong-in and Namwad, only to be chased and stopped by Monthai. I guess they wanted to make the audience feel a sense of revenge by making Bpee run away after experiencing such hardships. 

After watching that, I didn’t expect that the other ending scenes in the two versions would satisfy me enough if it didn’t have the ML chasing after the FL and begging her.  

Nonetheless, while I did acknowledge how twisted the 2008 version was for making Bpee think Monthai is going back to Australia and then cry after he left, only to have him come back when she’s crying and propose to her so that we get a scene of them hugging under the Asoke tree — I thought it was a beautiful ending, especially the cinematography and thought behind them standing under the tree full of beautiful red flowers. 

On the other hand, the 1999 version’s ending was very joyous. The problem of the drama was not stretched out until the last hour of the final episode so I was about to easily go through the ending while focusing on other plot points like the sudden redemption of the Viyada. 

This was also the version where Viyada did not end up in jail, Monthai and Bpeeyachat got married, and Viyada even came to their wedding and apologized.

I didn’t buy the “miraculous 180 of a murderer”, but I guess it is what it is in the end and I was just happy overall. 

T H E    S O U N D T R A C K  
 V I D E O    Q U A L I T Y 
The video quality of Thai dramas is directly proportional to the year of their release. 

This means that the newer the drama is the better the quality will be. While I personally have no issues with this, some of you might and so I have included this within this review.  The 1999 version of the drama has the highest available video quality of 240p. The 2008 version of the drama has the highest video quality available at 360p. Finally, the 2016 version has the highest quality available at 1080p.
T H E    C O N C L U S I O N
In conclusion, if you want something:
  1. Reflective of society in late90s
  2. More equal leads in status
  3. Smart and decisive ML
  4. Less angst
Give the 1999 version of Ngao Asoke your time.

On the other hand, if you want something:
  1. Passionate
  2. Possessive ML x White lotus FL
  3. Slap/Kiss-ish
  4. Sad
Give the 2008 version of Ngao Asoke your time.
Finally, if you are interested in something:
  1. Less dramatic than 2008 ver.
  2. More childish banter
  3. Smarter ML than 2008
  4. Better video quality
Give the 2016 version of Ngao Asoke your time!
I liked the 1999 version the most. I adored the 2008’s version. & 2016’s version left me underwhelmed. 
F I N A L L Y 
I am sure we have all at one point or another wanted to find something new to watch, attempted to search for something here on MDL, found one that interests you the most, and then upon further inspection realized that there are possibly two more versions of the drama out there?

It’s almost as if I’m in a store and have fallen in love with all three shades of the same shirt, but only have enough money to afford one at the moment.
Idealistically, I could always come back and buy the rest at a later day. However, right now… what do I take home with me right now?
This is why I have thought of making articles about dramas that I have watched with many versions/remakes — and talking about how I felt about each and which one I feel is the best. 

I am hoping that with this new article I was able to help some of you figure out whether you want to watch Ngao Asoke or not. Or perhaps even figure out which version is the most suited to your taste. Or maybe even decide which one you would like to watch first? 
I am also hoping that for others, especially those who have also watched these dramas, this was something fun to read and share your own opinion about!  
& with that, see you all next time! (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ

Editors: BrightestStar (1st editor), devitto (2nd editor)

thai drama
ngao asoke
esther supareeleela
sean jindachot
pong nawat
ae isariya
sarasook egkarat
peung kunya

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