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How hidden camera pranksters conquered Thailand's box office.
In the film, the interns are ordered to somehow shave off the iconic mustache of singer Ad Carabao, a Springsteenish rocker known to roll with rowdy bikers. After being pushed around and even shot at by his gang (who are secretly in on the joke) the interns meet the rock legend — and beg with whispery deference for his whiskers.
“We just had a feeling these boys were good people inside,” said Saranae member Nakorn “Ple” Silachi. “That makes it more fun to watch.”
One of the interns, Pongpit “Starbuck” Preechaborisutkul, said his traditional Chinese-Thai family has shown concern over this “frivolous” behavior. They were particularly upset to see their son trapped in a small tent with a grumpy tiger. “They might get the humor, but they don’t like it,” he said. “They would prefer I work in business.”
Cultural do’s-and-don’ts aside, there’s one huge plus to pranking in Thailand: It’s a far less litigious country than America. Saranae is free to kidnap celebrities, scare the hell out of them and simply apologize their way out of repercussions.
Though livid, Mum, the actor tricked into the taxi hell ride, later accepted Saranae’s flurry of apologetic bows on Thai television. There were conditions: Mum forced them to edit some of the cursing that made him appear “low class.” (In Thailand, public displays of fury are quite taboo.)
“We knew he’d never sue us,” McIntosh said. “Of course, in America, I would be sued. I’d lose my company. Actually, I’d probably go to jail.”
Saranae’s rules are also shaped by trial and error. Targeting strangers was ruled out after a wayward TV stunt in which the pranksters acquired a public bus and picked up unsuspecting commuters. When elderly passengers boarded, they’d run the standard route. But when younger passengers would board, the comedians would feign bombings.
“We thought we’d put a little rainbow color in their life,” McIntosh said. Instead, the outcry nearly forced them to shut down the company.
Energized by their surprise domestic success, Saranae has decided to submit the film to the Cannes Film Festival and possibly market it internationally under the title, “God Bless the Interns.”
Meanwhile, Saranae prankster Hoi has been creeping into theaters to soak up Thai moviegoers’ reactions. Between fits of laughter, many will mutter that the comedians are “evil” or call them monitor lizards, a rather poisonous Thai put-down.
“At first, I thought, ‘Wow, maybe we really are evil backstabbers,’” Hoi said. “But wouldn’t you believe it? Pretty soon our front desk was crowded with people applying to work for us. They want to prank people too.”
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