Blinded by the Light
Review by Myla Tosatto
I was intrigued when I was asked to see Blinded by the Light. The only thing I knew about it was that it was directed by Gurinder Chada who made the charming hit Bend it Like Beckham. Chada may have another hit like that one on her hands. It’s a small film, but it tells a universal story (with a rock and roll twist).
Javed (Viveik Kalara) is a normal British teenager who likes to write poetry. He is trying to get good grades, a girlfriend, a job, and the approval of his overbearing father (Kulvinder Ghir). What makes Javed different is that he is also looking for his voice. When his friend Roops (Aaron Phagura) introduces Javeed to Bruce Sprngsteen, the young British Pakistani finally finds his voice. His new writing skills catch the eye of his teacher Miss Cay (Hayley Atwell) who encourages him to write. With this comes more confidence which is noted by neighbors played by Rob Brydon and David Hayman and classmate Eliza (Nell Williams).
Since the bulk of this movie takes place in England in 1987, the politics of Margaret Thatcher (and Ronald Reagan) also come into play. It’s weird (sad) that nothing much has changed in 40 years. It is Javed’s coming of age story with huge chunks of racism thrown in. Seeing slurs against him and his family, told to GO HOME where they came from and having bigots spit and worse on them makes Blinded by the Light very topical for the world of Trump and May.
This movie is for folks who like history (the movie is based on a true story), British imports, politics, 1980’s clothes, hair and music, anyone who had strict parents, and of course, Bruce Springsteen fans. His songs play throughout the entire movie. You will be tapping your foot as Javed finds himself.
From writer/director/producer Gurinder Chadha (“Bend It Like Beckham”) comes the inspirational drama “Blinded by the Light,” set to the music and lyrics of Bruce Springsteen’s timeless songs. “Blinded by the Light” is a joyful story of courage, love, hope, family and the unique ability of music to lift the human spirit. The film tells the story of Javed (Viveik Kalra), a British teen of Pakistani descent growing up in the town of Luton, England, in 1987. Amidst the racial and economic turmoil of the times, he writes poetry as a means to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the inflexibility of his traditional father (Kulvinder Ghir). But when a classmate (Aaron Phagura) introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Javed sees parallels to his working-class life in the powerful lyrics. As Javed discovers a cathartic outlet for his own pent-up dreams, he also begins to find the courage to express himself in his own unique voice. Inspired by a true story, based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s acclaimed memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll, “Blinded by the Light” was directed by Gurinder Chadha from a screenplay written by Manzoor, Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges. “Blinded by the Light” stars Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura, Hayley Atwell and Dean-Charles Chapman. The story is underscored by the music and poetic lyrics of Springsteen, who gave Chadha his blessing from the film’s inception. New Line Cinema presents, in association with Levantine Films and Ingenious Media, a Bend It Films Production, a Gurinder Chadha Film, “Blinded by the Light.” The film is slated for release on August 14, 2019 and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.