Movie review: Blinded by the Light

Bruce Springsteen IS the Boss

Blinded by the Light (2019_film_poster)My wife and I were intrigued enough to go see the film Blinded by the Light on what turned out to be the day before it left the Spectrum Theatre in Albany. It wasn’t there very long.

The premise is that Javed (movie newcomer Viveik Kalra) is a Muslim young man in England. His family, including parents Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) and Noorhad (Meera Ganatra), had emigrated from Pakistan. Javed is finding life at school and home disspiriting. The overt racism he encounters on his way home in the country run by Margaret Thatcher made it worse.

Then, in the lunchroom and out of the blue, a Sikh young man named Roops (Aaron Phagura) lends Malik two cassettes by Bruce Springsteen and promises him that it will change his life. And it does.

The Boss’ words have liberated his creative vision. In doing so, he butts heads with his strict and controlling traditional father. What does this music of this Jewish American – “he’s not Jewish!” – have to do with them? What Bruce wrote related to the working class.

His confidence also helps him attract the attention of his classmate, Eliza (Nell Williams). A scene with Malik, Eliza, and her parents was painfully believable. Malik’s relationship with Eliza made the lyrics wrote for the band of his best friend Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman) more believable. Other pivotal people in Maloik’s life include his sisters, his teacher and a neighbor.

Blinded by the Light is based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park, published in 2007. Manzoor co-wrote the script with director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) and her husband Paul Mayeda Berges.

This film has surface similarities with Yesterday: South Asian involved with a massively successful musician. It’s a very different film, stylistically.

Bruce Springsteen has given his thumbs up to the project. He loved Manzoor’s book and showed up at the premiere, even playing at the afterparty.

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: “Even when it feels as if we’ve seen this movie before, we’ve never seen it set to the sounds of the Boss, and we’ve never seen it from the point of view of this particular terrific kid and his family.” I highly recommend Blinded by the Light.