Review of “The Kite Runner” held over the weekend at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre

The second play in Aadyam’s Season Five is Akvarious’s production of The Kite Runner. The premier shows of this were held over the weekend at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre.

This production, directed by Akarsh Khurana, is based on Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of the best selling novel of the same name by Khaled Hosseini. It is really difficult to adapt a novel of such epic proportions like The Kite Runner, as it traverses countries and continents, cultures, languages and time. Despite these hurdles, this adaptation stays very true to the original novel, and Akarsh has done a great job of directing this sweeping saga of friendship, family and love. This adaptation unfolds like an illustrated narrative stitched together by Amir, the main protagonist of this play. Like a sutradhar, Amir recounts the past, and it is through him we are introduced to the other major characters in the story. Since these events are being relayed to the audience more like a flash back, this adaptation lacks the urgency and power of watching something actually happening in the present on stage, which the audience can become privy to, like Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for example.

The first act of the play encompasses the first half of the novel, and is set in Kabul, around the year 1975, when Afghanistan was in the throes of tremendous political strife and unrest. It highlights the deep friendship between Amir (Nipun Dharmadhikari) and Hassan (Abhishek Saha). Amir’s father, whom he calls Baba (Akash Khurana), is a wealthy aristocrat ‘Pushtoon’ of Kabul, while Hassan’s father Ali (Kumud Mishra), is his servant and a low cast ‘Hazra’. Amir and Hassan are inseparable whether they are indulging in their favourite sport, Kite Flying, or reading the well loved story Sorab and Rustom. Ali And Baba have a deep bond as well, one that goes way beyond a master servant relationship. However, soon everything is about to change in this idyllic world of theirs. It is a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and the skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite flying tournament. But none of them can foresee the terrible incident which will shatter their lives forever. This incident riddles Amir’s conscience with guilt, a guilt so deep that it infects every waking moment of his life.

Adhaar + Abhishek 1 Low Res

In the second part of the play, which incidentally is a tad too long, Baba and Amir move to Pakistan after the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets. Then finally in 1981 they emigrate to America. Amir graduates in Creative Writing from the University of San Jose, gets married to the lovely Soraya ( Muskkaan Jaferi) and later even starts teaching. Upon the death of his father in San Jose, Amir meets his father’s dear friend from Kabul, Rahim (Shubrajyoti Barat), who acquaints him of yet another shattering secret of his family’s relationship with Ali and Hassan. This secret reminds Amir that both he and his father had “betrayed people who would have given their lives for them”. This further compounds Amir’s guilt and as he is caught in the web of desperately seeking redemption, he hopes and prays that “there is a way to be good again”. When this opportunity is soon presented to him, he grabs it with both hands, thus hoping to quell the all pervading “guilt” that propels this play.

The Kite Runner, is an unforgettable and heart-breaking play about the price of betrayal and the possibility of redemption and an exploration of the influence of fathers over sons, their sacrifices, their love and their lies. Akash Khurana’s portrayal of Baba is a tour de force in acting. He totally looks the part, and it fits him like a glove! Abhishek Saha makes an excellent Hassan, while Nipun as Amir, does a really commendable job in keeping the play move along seamlessly. Kumud Mishra is very believable as Ali, and Adhaar Khurana makes a really menacing Aseef. Apart from some seriously good acting and direction, The Kite Runner, also boasts of a very versatile stage set by Ayaz Basrai and Quasar Thakore Padamsee’s lightening design is quite distinctive as well. The play’s wonderful music certainly adds to the authenticity of the setting, as do the Afghani carpet motifs suspended as backdrops on stage. And surely the fact that many of the actors and crew who are connected with this production are directors themselves, must have a lot to do with the finesse of this show! Further shows are planned for the last weekend in September in Bandra. Tickets are available on BookMyShow. Grab them!

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