Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Man Behind The Kite Runner

Reuters, via CNN, tells the story of the real star of the upcoming film version of The Kite Runner:

A man living in a graveyard in a rubbish-strewn, rundown Kabul district is the unlikely hero behind the scenes of one of Hollywood's most eagerly anticipated movies this year.

Noor Agha is widely acknowledged as the best kite-maker in Afghanistan, where flying and duelling with kites is the closest thing the war-torn country has to a national sport. He is also a champion kite-flyer.

"The Kite-Runner", based on the bestselling novel by an Afghan immigrant living in the United States, hits the screens in November, featuring hundreds of kites painstakingly made by Agha in his shack in a graveyard in Kabul's Ashiqan Arifan area.

He also spent weeks training the movie's teenage protagonists in kite flying and duelling, skills they used on camera when the movie was shot in China last year.

"I got $30 a day for 45 days, teaching them all I knew. Sometimes I had to smack them when they didn't do well," Agha says, smiling and revealing a missing upper tooth.

As the article points out, kite flying was banned by the Taliban, and Agha was forced to flee to Pakistan. Now, it's the Taliban who are (mostly) in Pakistan, while Agha's kites are heavily in demand.


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