Sawadee ka, hi guys! I’m from Motion VS. Letters. I usually compare the moving version of the story (Motion) and the version that you have to read (Letters.) For this blog, I’ll compare and review “The Happiness of Kati,”the famous short novel that got translated into more than 10 languages from Thailand!. Let’s roll!
The original “ความสุขของกะทิ” (Kwam-Sook-Kong-Kati, The Happiness of Kati) was published a long long long long time ago, in 2003. It got republished over and over again. Now, it had been published 99 times and this endless publishing seems to go on and on. Probably even over the next decade. The book’s quality was rewarded by The S.E.A. Write Award, and even became a book that is required to be read in most of the schools around Thailand.
“Mom never promised to come back.”
Back when I was in grade 7, I was required to read this book, and write a summary of it. You know what? I read only the first chapter of the book, and then I was like “Why do I have to know this.” I stopped reading the book immediately. I can’t even remember what I’ve written on my exam about The Happiness of Kati. 7 years later, a lot of things have changed. I have a new perspective because, you know, I have been through a lot and things have changed. Now, books and movies are my life. I started to ask a question to myself: “What makes this book so popular?” In order to figure this out, I bought The Happiness of Kati again.
I bought the original Thai version, even though I usually prefer English books, and there actually is an English version of this book available, I believe the word choice is much more beautiful when it comes in its original form (this is another reason why I would like to know many languages). The plot is simple, the book cover is simple, the artworks are simple. Hmm..what makes it so special then?
The plot is about a 9-year-old girl losing her mom due to a disease. I know it is a tragedy losing your loved one but that is not what makes Happiness of Kati special..so what could it be?
Oh by the way, another character that you will fall for, besides Kati, is Kati’s grandpa. Trust me every word of him will make you smile. If you take a closer look, Kati views everything as her “happiness.” Even in her worst situation, the footsteps on the parquet floor resembles music for her. The life lesson that people usually don’t notice here is to appreciate everything around you is the key to happiness even if it is a little silly thing. (If you read the book you will understand what I mean more clearly). I really recommend this book. It is short, even a slow reader like me can finish it in one day, but has a really strong message.
The movie that follows the book
So, let us come to the movie version. I don’t really see the message of it. Not because it is bad, but it is so sad that I started to cry! SERIOUSLY! It is so sad in contrast to the bright tone of the film.
Basically, the movie isn’t about appreciating, more like the normal way of telling the typical everyday life of Kati. In the movie version, you won’t see the happy Kati that appreciates everything like what the book said. She seems to be a sad and shy girl, and you know what? She plays football. KATI PLAYS FOOTBALL! Well, that came out of nowhere!
Another thing that comes out nowhere and for no reason are two more characters. It seems like that giant girl that Kati calls “Giant Fortress” and the bicycle guy from France are just to be there in the movie to remind people that Kati lost her mom. The director was like “Hey, she lost her mom. Here I’ll let this giant girl’s dialogue remind you. Oh, you forgot it again? Take this French guy. He’ll remind you.” (haha) There might be a reason for these two characters to be in the movie, but I haven’t figured it out yet. Anyway, I appreciate the romance between P’Thong and Kati. They seem to be a pretty cute couple. In the book, P’Thong supposed to have the brightest smile in the village but P’Thong doesn’t smile a lot in the movie. I don’t mind anyway because P’Thong is a much cuter boy than I had imagined.
Overall I would prefer the book version. I’m not saying that the movie version is bad. It’s like the Thai version of Titanic, a movie that will make you cry. Give both of them a try. The happiness is a piece of art, and it proves that Thai people are as good as other people from around the world when it comes to talent for writing compelling novels :-)
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