Review: Blinded By The Light

By Rosa

Blinded By The Light” is the latest film by director Gurinder Chadha (who has directed films such as “Bend Like Beckham”, “Bride and Prejudice” among others). Her recent film follows the life of Javed (Viveik Kaira), a teenager whose life is impacted and influenced when he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen. Aside from Kaira, the film features a supporting cast made up of Aaron Phagura, Dean-Charles Chapman, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Hayley Atwell and Nell Williams.

The screening I attended showed the making of this film and the journey of the director (Gurinder Chadha) and the man whose life influenced this film (Sarfraz Manzoor) instead of trailers. I’m not entirely sure if it was the same for the rest of the screenings. I was moved and utterly sucked in just watching this preview! I enjoyed the making of this film; from the director reading Sarfraz’s memoir and instantly wanting to make a movie to both of them anxiously waiting to hear back from Springsteen after sending him the screenplay.

I must admit that going into this film I was expecting something similar to “Yesterday, and initially, I was a bit nervous since I wasn’t particularly fond of that film. I LOVE this film!!! I couldn’t stop smiling and crying for its entirety. Although this film is based on the memoir of Sarfraz Manzoor, many of the topics are universally making them relatable to the viewer. This movie takes place in a completely different continent from where I reside, yet it deeply resonated with me. Everything from political issues, social tensions, identity issues, family dynamics, friendships, and much more just hit me in the right spots, if that makes sense?

blinded by light scene
“Baby, we were born to run.”

 

As a Chicana (Mexican/American), I’ve faced many social tensions and identity issues. Seeing it unfold on the big screen gave me the feeling that my own story was being portrayed. Javed isn’t only the son of an immigrant family, but he is also a writer! And I’m an aspiring writer!! Can you guys understand how this story is very similar to my own and why I’m passionate about others watching this film?

“At one point, Javed feels he could never be a writer because, in his home, his opinions don’t matter, only his father’s. We’ve all experienced (at one point in our lives) our parents dictating what we should study or how to live our lives (or you at least know someone who has gone through this). Again, these family conflicts are universal, making them relatable.”

Music is a medium we can all connect to and at times, be influenced by it. I’ve always been a big music fan (I don’t compose or play any instrument), but I love listening to it. Yes, I’m that woman who walks down the street with her earphones on and singing the song I’m listening to. Several artists have made an impact in my life, but not to the capacity that Springsteen had on Javed. For the past several years, I’ve been listening to music from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. The music from those decades seems to connect with me deeper, unlike today’s music. I wasn’t the biggest Springsteen fan, but I am now! This film beautifully intertwined the music with the story.

Although this movie has music throughout the film, it isn’t only about the music. It’s about Javed and his journey to pursuing his dreams (with the help of music). The performances are well done, and I think that Viveik Kaira did a phenomenal job. For example, Javed is watching Springsteen on television; his face showcases happiness and awed, then it drastically changes to fear and hopelessness the moment his father walks into the house. Javed, his family, and close friends suffer discrimination due to their background, these scenes moved me.

blinded by light parents
Kulvinder Ghir and Meera Ganatra as Javed’s overbearing parents

 

The film did an excellent job of taking a joyful scene and transitioning the film’s narrative to the unfortunate reality. In one compelling scene we see Javed standing in the street, with a march happening behind him, and on the other side of the street his father, who was injured by a white supremacist. The shot widens, and a billboard is shown that says “Unite Britain” vote conservative. I was deeply moved and saddened to see this scene mainly because it’s relevant now in 2019.

“As a Chicana (Mexican/American), I’ve faced many social tensions and identity issues. Seeing it unfold on the big screen gave me the feeling that my own story was being portrayed.”

Javed, as a writer is something we can all relate to. There are times where he thinks his writing isn’t “good” and even questions the purpose of writing. I’m sure we all have had those days (for me they may be more often than others) where we can’t help to think what is the entire purpose of our existence. Javed is raised in a conservative, traditional household where he must do as his father says without asking any questions. At one point, Javed feels he could never be a writer because, in his home, his opinions don’t matter, only his father’s. We’ve all experienced (at one point in our lives) our parents dictating what we should study or how to live our lives (or you at least know someone who has gone through this). Again, these family conflicts are universal, making them relatable.

blinded by the light director
Director Gurinder Chadha and Viveik Kaira on set

 

Towards the ending, Javed is giving his speech and says a memorable quote, “My dream is to build a bridge to my dreams, but not a wall between my family and me.” Every dream is valid, and we must work towards them and never forget the possibility of our actions affecting other individuals in our lives (family, friends, significant others). Success is meaningless if you have nobody to share it with so we all must remember to never be Blinded by the Light.

I can’t say this enough, but please watch this film. It’s a movie that will move you while simultaneously motivate you to pursue your dreams regardless of where you’re from. I love this movie, and as of now, it’s my favorite of this year.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

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