Blinded By The Light 2019

Blinded by the Light (2019)

Plot: In England in 1987, a teenager from an Asian family learns to live his life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of American rock star Bruce Springsteen.

Review: “Is a dream a lie if it doesn’t come true, Or is it something worse” – Bruce Springsteen, The River.

In 1987 situated in Luton, a town in the UK, Javed Khan is a British-Pakistani teenager struggling to have his voice heard in a family headed by a dominating father whilst living in a hostile community. Struggling to clench on to the hope of escaping his reality, he at the behest of a newfound friend discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen opening up his entire existence to a whole new world of possibilities. Bruce’s music enables Javed to go after his dreams and realize that his voice matters.

Viveik Kalra who plays Javed manages to carry the entire film on his shoulders despite it being his feature film debut. He handles his journey from an aggravated, shackled teen to a persevering, confident one rather impressively. His subtlety stood out to me as I could feel his burning inner angst. Javed’s character is a dreamer but he is not naive and Kala plays it with just the right amount of innocence.

Kulvinder Ghir plays Javed’s father and the role could have been reduced to that of a stereotypical overbearing parent but Ghir’s performance prevents that from happening. The stubborn misguided arrogance of the character is portrayed in a realistically organic manner by Ghir.

The supporting cast is quite solid with most of them getting little moments of their own to shine. Hayley Atwell is positively good as Javed’s teacher who believes in him and tells him to believe in himself too all the while giving him the encouragement and positive reinforcement he needs to succeed.

There is an intense scene near the latter half of the film taking place between Javed and his father and I could relate to it because of my personal experience but the strong acting by Kalra and Ghir made it even more real for me. I could feel myself in that room feeling what Javed was feeling and that is a testament to the acting, writing, and direction of the film.

The screenplay by Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, and Sarfraz Manzoor who wrote the book “Greetings from Bury Park – Race. Religion. Rock ‘N’ Roll” on which it is based is uplifting and hits home the right messages without being too preachy. There are a lot of heavy topics present here; politics, racism, hardships suffered by immigrants, religion, orthodox family traditions, turbulent father-son relationship, finding one’s voice, and speaking up. All of these are scarily relevant even today but the amalgamation of these is not at all heavy-handed but very organic and realistic.

Gurindher Chadha’s direction feels authentic. The cultural specificity presented here was captivating. A sequence involving Javed and his sister Shazia at a daytimer which is a rave at a club during daytime for British Asians mostly populated by teens bunking school to come and dance their heart out to bhangra songs was quite delightful. Javed’s introduction to Springsteen when he starts listening to Dancing in the Dark and The Promised Land is shot like a fantastical music video with the lyrics appearing on-screen but it helps in driving home the life-changing impact of the music being had on Javed at that moment. It also made me nostalgic of the times I would walk around listening to my walkman lost in my world. There are a few cheesy moments present but as the intention in these moments is to exude positivity you can’t be too bothered by them.

The soundtrack is obviously Bruce Springsteen heavy but here Chadha chose the songs which she believed served the story instead of just picking the most popular. Two songs of the great Indian music director Naushad are also present. A.R. Rahman also composed the song “For You My Love” which is a beautiful and soulful track. The soundtrack here is thoughtfully curated and it shows.

Beneath the love letter to the music of Bruce Springsteen lies a story about following your dreams no matter what the odds. If you are a parent reading this then please support the dreams of your child and I don’t mean financially because not everyone can do that but by just giving emotional support you can make a world of difference and in return, your child will move mountains to make you proud.

In these distressing times Blinded by the Light is the inspiring, uplifting shot everybody who dares to dream needs. Don’t miss it.

My Rating: 9/10

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Comments (2)

  • Krishna Reply

    Beautifully written !

    6 June 2021 at 4:02 pm
  • Fatma Merchant Reply

    Very well explained ?

    6 June 2021 at 8:48 pm

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