Blinded by the Light


Blinded by the Light (Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghi, Meera Ganatra, Aaron Phagura) – Bruce Springsteen fans: Mark August 14, 2019, down for the opening day for Blinded by the Light, titled for the Springsteen song that appeared on The Boss’ first album and which became a #1 hit by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1976.

Blinded by the Light, the movie, is a slice-of-life film set in Britain in 1987.  Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister; the economy was in recession; and anti-migrant sentiments were running high.

Javed (Viveik Kaira) is a normal high school student with an interest in writing and a desire to sample all the tastes of life a teenager craves: a girl, friendship, parties, and self-satisfaction.  But Javed is Pakistani, and he feels different than other kids.  He looks different; has a domineering father; dodges racial slurs and physical threats; and lacks confidence.

By chance, he bumps into Roops (Aaron Phagura), an Indian high schooler who tells him that his life would be immeasurably enhanced by listening to two Bruce Springsteen albums/cassettes. Just as things become unbearable at home, he puts on Springsteen, which permanently changes his life.  As his life evolves, we hear and see (on the screen) Springsteen’s lyrics, which seem a perfect match for Javed.  As he embraces The Boss, he gains self-confidence.  He finds his first girlfriend.  Encouraged by a nurturing English teacher, he submits his first piece to the high school paper.  He proposes a Springsteen-only radio show to the program director of the high school radio station.  His writing improves.  And his teacher submits an essay of his to a national contest.

But at home, things are getting worse.  His father loses his job; his mother is forced to sew until after midnight to meet the household bills; and Javed must work to contribute to the family’s finances.  As his father becomes depressed over losing his job, he tightens the reins on his rebellious son.

The rest of the story is actually quite familiar except for the way Javed’s direction evolves through Bruce’s lyrics.  Is Javed Born to Run? Does he have a Hungry Heart? Or is he Blinded by the Light? You’ll need to see the movie to find out.

With no recognizable stars, this witty, clever movie was inspired by a true story.  Gurinda Chadha, who also directed Bend It Like Beckham among other films and documentaries, helmed the film and co-wrote it with her husband, Paul Mayeda Burges.

Though very predictable, Blinded by the Light will thrill Springsteen fans while taking the audience through a fun ride through adolescence.

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