Human hurricane who sets whole Kite Runner story in motion

Baba (Emilio Doorgasingh), Ali (Ezra Khan) and Hassan (Andrei Costin)in The Kite Runner
Baba (Emilio Doorgasingh), Ali (Ezra Khan) and Hassan (Andrei Costin)in The Kite Runner

A stage adaptation of popular book The Kite Runner is flying high as fans of the novel flock to see it.

Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel follows boyhood friends Amir and Hassan, the son of his father’s servant, excited about a kite-flying competition in the Afghanistan city of Kabul, on the verge of the war that will eventually tear their country apart.

A terrible incident on that day shatters their lives forever in a story of betrayal and a search for redemption, set in Afghanistan and the USA, where Amir and his dad eventually move to escape the horror of what’s happening at home.

Emilio Doorgasingh plays Baba, the father of Amir.

He said of Baba: “He is an incredible character. His nickname is Mr Hurricane and that sums him up.

“He’s the catalyst for everything that happens in this play. All the action spins around him.

“I see him as that great roaring boy from the start of the play and then he goes into this decline.

“He goes from Afghanistan to America and his world changes.”

He is a widower whose wife died giving birth to Amir and Emilio thinks he brings up his son badly. “His whole focus is making him into a man. He is very much a man’s man in a very old-fashioned sense.

“It is a play about redemption – about his and about Amir’s at the same time.”

Emilio continued: “It is definitely a play about fathers and sons and families, against the background of Afghanistan politics and refugees in America.”

The experience of refugees in the USA is so central to the play that when US President Donald Trump banned travel to the country from several Muslim-majority nations, Emilio gave a speech condemning his action every night for a week after the final curtain during the play’s London run.

Emilio co-wrote it with the play’s writer, Matthew Spangler. He said: “We felt we couldn’t do a play about refugees in America and not do anything about it.”

He added: “There were a lot of Afghans in the audience. They said, ‘It’s just fantastic, it’s our story and it’s great to see it represented on stage. Those images are so pertinent.”

Emilio said that people love the story.

“It’s about families and about people messing up as we all do.

“We all make mistakes and do things we regret, it’s about finding our way back and about being human, as all the best plays and books are.

“That’s why is it was such a success. The book sold 40 million.

“Audiences are coming to see the show in droves.

“It’s incredible, they come with big expectations because they love the book so much.”

He added: “The play is very faithful to the book in a way the film couldn’t be.The essence of the book is really in this prpduction.

“That’s what people react to as well. It’s been a great experience.”

Emilio has played the role since the first production in 2009.

He said: “The character grows in your head and lives in the back of your head somewhere. The current version is far richer and more detailed.

“I put Baba on like his three-piece suit. I’m really happy to meet him every evening.”

He was surprised to be cast in the role at first because Baba is meant to be a giant of a man who wrestled a bear and won.

“The director had seen something in my personality. He told me, ‘You bring yourself to that character and make it your own’. He’s such a relatable character.

“I see my father and other characters in him. You channel those things until you get to the essence of him.

“The same director told me, ‘Just think bear, just be more of a bear’.”

Apparently that did the trick for him.