The crowd-pleasing, heartfelt and emotionally gripping film, BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, featuring the music of Bruce Springsteen is a joyride about the ways in which music can change our lives – especially during the advent of adolescence. It is distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd. and will open in cinemas nationwide this Friday, 16 August 2019.
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT is a coming-of-age tale directed by Gurinder Chadha, who in 2002 made the terrific Bend It Like Beckham. The film, which is both a charming ode to teenage dreams and a loving tribute to The Boss, marks an exuberant return to form for the director, who explains the essence of the movie: “It’s about a young man’s dreams, and how he is inspired by someone from a totally different cultural background writing about their own life thousands of miles away in New Jersey.”
It tells the story of Javed (Viveik Kalra), a Pakistani British teenager living in a drab London suburb in 1987, who experiences exactly that. He discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, which jolts him alive and becomes his fixation, his obsession and identity. But the music does more than that.
Javed’s world is turned upside down after a chance encounter with rebellious classmate Roops (a scene-stealing Aaron Phagura), who introduces his new friend to the thumping music of Bruce Springsteen; the artist might no longer be seen as cool by Javed’s peers, but the lyrics inspire him to take control of his destiny.
Javed’s home life is one we’ve encountered a million times: Parents who expect their children to ignore the culture they’ve brought them to and honour the values of the land they left. Playing the stern father, Malik, Kulvinder Ghir has a thankless job. He has devoted his entire life to eking out a better future for his children. A proud and traditional patriarch, he refuses to let his son grow up to be a taxi driver, but he also lives in denial about Javed’s burning desire to become his own man. Ghir’s performance is heartfelt and hilarious.
Meanwhile, as Javed, Kalra’s wide-eyed expressiveness and unexpected layers of emotional vulnerability lends a great deal to the film. He seems to be having the time of his life in this role.
Inspired by the life of British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, who co-wrote the script, the film focuses on the teen, who is struggling to find a balance between his life in and outside of the home, with expectations from his Pakistani father conflicting with how he sees his own life.
The rest of the cast include Javed’s family and friends. His mother Noor (Meera Ganatra) is a beacon of patience, while his older sister Shazia (Nikita Mehta) is the similarly-Anglicised sibling who gives the teen some much-needed perspective about how to look out for his own.
Supporting actors include Hayley Atwell as a well-meaning English teacher who helps set the stage for Javed’s inspiration to grow; Nell Williams as Eliza, the girl who catches his eye; and his New Wave wannabe best friend Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman).