Race, religion, and rock ‘n’ roll -- these are the three themes that British-Pakistani journalist Sarfraz Manzoor explored in his memoir, Greetings from Bury Park, which has now been adapted in the brilliant new film ‘Blinded by the Light’.
‘Blinded by the Light’ is directed and co-written by independent filmmaker, Gurinder Chadha, who is best known for her 2002 blockbuster hit ‘Bend It Like Beckham’. For her new film, Chadha worked with Manzoor to tell his story of growing up in Margaret Thatcher-era England.
Chadha’s mission as a filmmaker has long been to promote diversity in her work, usually with the inclusion of strong, independent female characters and the representation of British-Asians on screen. Both of these themes play a significant role in ‘Blinded by the Light’.
In “Blinded by the Light,’ the character based on Manzoor, Javed (rising star Viveik Kalra), is a British-Pakistani teen living in the working-class town of Luton, England, in 1987. Although Javed secretly desires to become a poet, his traditional father (played by Kulvinder Ghir) insists that Javed focuses on making money to support the family. At a time when Margaret Thatcher’s administration saw the end of many factory jobs, Javed’s father is fired from his position of employment and struggles to make ends meet. The story of Javed’s father is part of the film’s emotional core, especially thanks to the superb acting by Kulvinder Ghir, who allows the audience to see the vulnerability and emotional depth beyond his character’s strict exterior.
What saves Javed from the crisis at home is when his friend, Roops (Aaron Phagura), introduces him to the music of American rock idol Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen’s songs about living a working-class life, falling in love, and his determination to leave his hometown strikes a heartfelt chord with Javed. Inspired by Springsteen, Javed decides to pursue poetry and a relationship with his high school crush, Eliza (Nell Williams). Meanwhile, the relationship between Javed and his father grows tense as their conflicting ideologies collide.
Overall, ‘Blinded by the Light’ is best described as a love letter to the music of Bruce Springsteen and the power of finding your own path. This is a movie where you will cry, you will laugh, and sometimes you’ll do a mixture of both. It’s an irresistible delight that reminds us that, whatever our differences may be, music still has the power to unite us. Especially the music of Bruce.
For those of you interested in seeing ‘Blinded by the Light,’ its time in movie theaters is almost over as it was released on August 16th of this year. Movie theaters near the American University campus, like AMC Mazza Gallerie Theater, are still running showtimes for this film.
The U.S. release date for ‘Blinded by the Light’ on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Video has not yet been announced.