Tana "Bom" Eamniyom has become a familiar face, having appeared in many music videos and a Channel 3 drama. But Bom is set to become a household name when he appears as Ad Carabao, aka Yuenyong Opakul, the bandleader, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter of the legendary rock band Carabao in Young 'Bao Carabao The Movie, which opens on Thursday.
The film tells the story of Ad and his band _ called Carabao _ from 1980 to the peak of the band's popularity in 1985, when the album Made in Thailand was released. With sales of five million, it remains the best selling album in Thailand. The band's popularity at the time can also be gauged by the fact they could draw audiences of 60,000 to their concerts.
Bom landed the role only two weeks before shooting began after first-choice singer Atiwara "Toon Bodyslam" Kongmalai withdrew due to scheduling problems and his own lack of confidence in his acting abilities. He was called in for audition by the production team partly because of his physical similarity to Ad, and also because of his ability to play guitar and sing.
But despite this and his experience, including the movie Love Summer (2011) and the Channel 3 drama Kularb Rai Glai Rak (2011), some still had doubts about his being cast to play Ad.
But Bom didn't let it bother him: "I can say that I didn't get the role by chance. I actually had an audition. But I can't say I didn't have some luck.
"And even my friends were saying things like, 'Hey! why did you steal my favourite singer's [Toon's] role,"' he said, laughing.
Bom says he doesn't mind being second choice since he thinks it's such an honour to play Ad on-screen that anybody would have jumped at the chance.
As for Toon's sudden departure from the project, Bom said he needed to work hard to prepare himself in just two weeks.
"I just had to do my best, that's all."
Part of that preparation included Bom watching footage of old Carabao concerts, seeing Carabao play live and also talking with Ad in person.
"Ad may look like a hot-tempered guy, but he's actually very kind. He told me to feel free to ask him anything.
"I talked to him about the movie, his feelings and his attitudes at the time, especially around the time of the fateful student-led protest of Oct 14, 1973. I also read books about Oct 14, so that I would better understand what happened."
In the period the movie is set in, Ad's age is close to Bom's age now, but the differences between then and now, and how they affected people of Bom's age, are bigger than he thought.
"I found one distinctive difference between adolescents in their late twenties now compared to those of Ad's era is that Ad's generation grew up a lot faster.
"They needed to do a lot for themselves and their family. On the other hand, most adolescents' lives now are a lot easier, and obviously some are spoiled," Bom said.
Bom says he is fascinated with Carabao's music, how their songs always have a sense of the sound of Thai instruments while still sounding modern. And Bom feels that there's a bind between Carabao and all Thais.
Another thing that makes people love Carabao is that their style is unique.
"It's attainable and down to Earth. The lyrics reflect Ad's real life and situations that all Thais understand."
Their songs are something more than just entertainment. The lyrics have a message. For example, the Made in Thailand album encouraged millions of Thais to be proud of "Thainess", to enjoy using things and eating things that are Thai.
"I'm really impressed with their abilities and the passion of their music," Bom says.
As far as can remember, Carabao has always been there. "I remember my dad always played their songs. He just loves them."
And it's not just Bom's father. After 92 albums, released over 30 years, the band's story captured the imagination of well-known advertising director Yuthakorn "Rjo" Sukmuktapha, who decided his first film would be Young 'Bao Carabao The Movie.
"It's such a wonderful story," Bom said, "how seven people from different family backgrounds got together to form a band. Some were, at least at first, more like enemies than friends. But how each one dedicated himself to their dream is praiseworthy. Some even resigned from their jobs."
Bom adds that he and his high school friends once planned to form a band, but they never did since each moved to different places after graduating from high school.
But he still thinks Carabao is a great model for those who want to make their dreams come true.
"Young 'Bao is a docudrama mixed with a bit of comedy. Ad isn't the only lead character _ everyone in the band is featured. The movie mostly reflects how people think of Ad through other people's eyes, with Ad as the one who tried to glue everyone together."
This meant that Bom was in most scenes, along with stars with far more experience than him such as Somchai "Tao" Khemklad, Arak "Pae" Amornsupasiri and Julajak "Hugo" Jakrapong.
"That was something I'd been worried about, but I found out that they are funny, and they're nice guys, which helped me a lot," Bom said.
Bom has been in showbusiness for around five years. He got his break when personal manager Suppachai "A" Srivichit saw him on the cover of a fashion magazine.
"I'd never planned to work in showbiz, but I'm very inquisitive and eager to have new experiences, so I seized the opportunity," says Bom.
Away from the spotlight, Bom enjoys spending time reading thrillers and watching movies. He also loves riding his motorbike. Ask him about his goals in life, and he says it's simple: "I want to take care of my parents and make them happy. I was very naughty when I was in high school, hung out a lot and didn't really focus on studying.
"But I finally graduated with a bachelor's degree. And now I've reach the point where I don't feel like doing those crazy teenage things anymore."
As for work in showbiz, Bom says, he would love to try anything. He believes that there's a lot more for him to learn. Who knows, Young 'Bao may be the catalyst to make his dream of forming a band come true. Or he may just be the next rising star. We'll just have to wait and see.
About the author
Writer: Pattramon Sukprasert & Praethong Polsawatwanich