A theatrical retelling

Khaled Hosseini’s heart-tugging saga comes to Delhi

A gripping tale of love and friendship, betrayal and redemption, good and evil, juxtaposed against the turbulent backdrop of wartime Afghanistan – 'Aadyam Theatre Festival' brings Khaled Hosseini's powerful tale to stage. Directed by Akarsh Khurana, 'The Kite Runner' play will be showcased in Delhi on October 5 and 6, at Kamani Auditorium.

Khurana, who has earlier staged 'Baghdad Wedding' by Hassan Abdulrazzak, didn't start off as a fanboy of 'The Kite Runner'. He liked the book as well as the film, but it wasn't till he read the play (adapted by playwright Matthew Spangler who has worked with Khaled Hosseini for three years), that he began to love it. In an exclusive interview with Millennium Post, Khurana talks about coming on board for the play, his love for stories set in Middle-East, dealing with the criticism, and much more.

First interaction with Matthew Spangler

Whenever it is possible, I prefer to make first contact with the playwright. More often than not, conversations with agents get infinitely easier when they are routed through the playwright. I was confused, how to go about getting the rights for 'The Kite Runner', so I reached out to Matthew, who was gracious and helpful. Once he pointed me in the right direction, he and I spoke about the script from a creative point of view. There were some edits I wanted to make, and he helped me through them, and suggested a few of his own. He was supposed to make it for the premiere, but unfortunately couldn't.

Affinity for stories set in middle-east

There is an inherent conflict in stories from regions in strife. And because of that, the human aspects of the stories really shine. I found great satisfaction in staging 'Baghdad Wedding' by Hassan Abdulrazzak back in 2011, particularly since it was a huge challenge. 'The Kite Runner' presented tremendous challenges as well, but I was inspired enough to have a go at it

Idea of turning a 372-page classic into a 2 hours long play

I would never have attempted to adapt the novel for stage. Matthew Spangler had the courage to do that, and talent to do justice to it. That was half the battle won for me and I was sold on the play. I had read the book long ago, and forgotten some of it. The standalone play script worked for me; It was good enough.

Comparison with the book

It is never easy to please everyone, particularly when they are very invested in the source material. The thing that worked in our favour was that a lot of people read the book a while back, and whatever may have changed or left out in the adaptation, the play has managed to evoke similar emotions as the book. It tends to trigger the nostalgia of the time the book was read.

Casting process

The casting process for my projects has always been instinctive. In this case, Nipun Dharmadhikari is more a director than an actor but I have known him as a person as he played a small role in my film, Karwaan. There is a vulnerability about him as well as a thinking side. This is what I wanted. It is an unconventional choice, and that will divide opinion. Casting my father (Akash Khurana) as Amir's father seemed obvious, but he comes with a great deal of experience and talent and I knew that, emotionally, he would be the spine of the play. Abhishek Saha, who is playing Hassan, is a huge fan of the book. He is a wonderful actor but it was his passion for the text that really drew me to say yes to him. Once I had these principal cast members in mind, the others fell into place.

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