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On Tony's trail

Ranjib Mazumder
Monday, November 30, 2009 23:59 IST
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Some life stories sound more like a film than life itself and so they say 'art imitates life'. Tony Jaa, Thailand's latest export to the west as the new-age martial arts action star's story is one of those exciting ones.

Did you know?
Tony has stared in movies like Ong bak and Ong bak 2, The Bodyguard and The Bodyguard 2 and Tom yum goong.

Born and raised in the rural areas of Thailand, Tony grew up watching films of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li at temple fairs. However, unlike other Thai kids, he went on to realise his dream becoming one of those whom he worshipped. The rising star of Asia opens up to After Hrs...

You are known by multiple names -- Tatchakorn Yeerum, Tony Jaa and Jaa Panom...
The name Tony is given by Prachya Pinkaew (acclaimed Thai film director, producer and screenwriter), so it's easy for international audiences to recognise the name. In Thailand, I am known as Ja Panom.

Tell us about your journey from arural village to the silver screen. How much life has changed for you?
As an actor, life has changed drastically since I am now in front of the camera. However, I have started my career in a minor role very early in my life.

Is being a stuntman a difficult job? Since you have progressed to become an actor, do you still identify the struggle of a stuntman?
Stunt work is always difficult and needs a lot of training. I would say it's very difficult, the pay for younger ones are not too great either. I am now in a better position to understand the hardship of the stuntmen than others. I hope others will also have the opportunities that I have been given.

You have been praised by your idol, Jackie Chan. Is there a collaboration between the two of you since he is keen on working with you?
I would love to work with Jackie Chan, but then everything depends on the projects and the timing.

Have you ever been to India?
No, not yet.It would be great to have a chance to see the great country of India someday.

Have you seen Indian films? Would you undertake a Bollywood project?
Yes, I have seen some, but not many. Sure when the opportunity permits, I would love to do a Bollywood project.

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