Behind the Controversial Scenes of 'The Kite Runner'

It turns out, a bit of teasing may be the least of Khan's worries. After a complaint from Khan's family, Paramount hired former CIA officer John Kiriakou to assess the potential threat to Ahmad and other child actors.

Kiriakou, who was the leader of the team that captured Osama bin Laden's aide, Avu Zubaita, believes that pirated copies of the film are inevitably going to appear in Afghanistan and that both the rape scene and a scene depicting a homoerotic dance for a Taliban official, may well put the young Afghan actors at risk.

"It's not just an angry member of the Taliban that we should be worried about," said Kiriakou. "It's members of the these boy's families or tribes who might feel once they see the scenes in the film that the boys had shamed the family and would try and exact revenge."

Backlash in Kabul

Hosseini did not foresee that the safety of these children might be compromised when he agreed to have the novel is made into a movie.

"I thought there might be some controversy about, about the content of the film, and there has been about the content of my novel," said Hosseini. "But my novel has been out for four years, I've never received a death threat."

Hosseini, who was exiled from Afghanistan years ago and is now living in the United States, said that the reaction from the Afghan community to his novel was "overwhelmingly positive."

Even Kiriakou says he was surprised by the depth of the reaction he found in Kabul.

"[What] I wasn't prepared for or didn't anticipate was the widespread belief that this would inflame sectarian differences between Hazaras and Pashtuns," said Kiriakou. "I didn't expect so many people to say that there was a danger of rioting, or sectarian violence in the streets once the film came out. That was a surprise."

Kiriakou's pessimistic report spurred Paramount into action. "The Kite Runner's" release was delayed for more than a month, so that four of the boys and their guardians could be relocated out of the country -- at no small expense.

"Paramount told me to do my investigation, come back and tell them everything, and that cost was no issue," recalled Kiriakou. "They wanted to make sure that they did right by the children and by the families."

But doing right by the children has an unexpected result; at least temporarily, the boys are exiles of Afghanistan, just like Hosseini and the boys in the story, a fact that Hosseini says "hits hard."

A final thread of redemption ties the real world to the fiction: In a powerful scene, the character of Amir -- grown-up and living in safety and comfort in the U.S. -- is given a chance to return to Kabul to rescue the son of the boyhood friend he betrayed.

Forster takes comfort in that sentiment. "We all wish we could change things, or regret things," he said. "And this story really deals with this quality of forgiveness and redemption, which I think is so important."

While Forster regrets that the boys may have been put in danger because of the movie, he is focusing on what he can do now to help them.

"You can't go back and harbor in the past," said Forster. "It's always very much about the present -- what can I do now, what can I do to help them, what can we do to resolve the situation. What has happened has happened. I feel like life in general, you have to always do what you can in the moment and move on from there."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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