The Kite Runner

Kite Runner : A person who chases after kites that are cut loose in a duel and retrieves them. Can be the same person as the one that flies the kite or a servant or a friend or…

I recently watched this movie by Marc Foster based on the book of the same name by Khaled Hosseini. In short, it’s the story of two kids who are inseparable when young, how they grow apart and what happens in their lives. What makes it interesting is how the story progresses and the depiction of the characters.

The movie starts with a guy Amir, receiving a box of his newly published book. He also receives a phone call from an old family friend in Pakistan and the story moves backward to Amir’s childhood. Here we get introduced to Hassan, the kite runner. He’s the son of the servant in Amir’s household. Both have a passion for flying kites, and Hassan is a very loyal friend to Amir. So much so that he suffers abuse (physical and sexual) from Assef and his friends, their bullies. Amir is reluctant to help and is later embarrassed of this. Hassan and his father leave Amir’s household after this incident though no one but Amir knows what exactly happened. Soon the Soviet invasion happens and Amir and his father move to the US.

In the US, he grows up, gets married, becomes moderately successful and publishes a book (he has always wanted to be a writer much against his father’s wishes) when he gets the phone call from Rahim Khan, a friend of his father and the one guy who appreciated Amir’s stories besides Hassan. Amir makes a trip to Peshawar where Rahim is living after the Taliban took over Afghanistan and learns about what happened to Hassan and who he really is. The rest of the story is about whether Amir has a change of character or remains the same spineless creature that he grew up as. Without giving away any plot details, it involves Hassan’s son and a meeting with his old bully Assef, who is now with the Taliban.

The protagonist and narrator of the story is Amir, a son of rich parents living in Kabul before the Soviet invasion and before Afghanistan is thrown into constant turmoil. He is a very passive person, non-confrontational and doesn’t even stand up to his bullies. Instead he lets Hassan fight on his behalf, which his father despises. He hopes that someday Amir will change and stand up for himself. Hassan is his close friend, his ally, and kite runner. He is from the Hazara tribe, considered lowly and not fit to be equals with the Pashtuns. Nevertheless, he’s extremely loyal to Amir till the very end of his life. Making the protagonist a weak character who the audiences won’t root for is a brave move on the part of the author. This being his first novel and going by the hypothesis that most first novels are autobiographical to some extent, we don’t know how much of Amir was derived from the author. Avoiding sudden changes of character in the second half of the movie and making Amir a sudden hero is a good move, and makes the movie more real. The movie ends on a positive note though, with Amir standing up for himself in his own way.

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