ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry 37: Blinded By The Light

Year: 2019

Runtime: 114 Minutes

Director: Gurinder Chadha

Writer: Gurinder Chadha, Sarfraz Manzoor, Paul Mayeda Berges

Stars: Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir, Nell Williams

By Rosa Parra

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). I was moved and utterly sucked in just watching the preview! I enjoyed the making of this film; from the director reading Sarfraz’s memoir and instantly wanting to make the film to both of them anxiously waiting to hear back from Springsteen after sending him the screenplay.

Based on the memoir of Sarfraz Manzoor, the majority of the topics are universal, making them easier to relate. Chadha manages to capture the difficulties individuals endure on a day to day basis all while successfully allowing the music to aid in the narration. Although the story takes place on a different continent to the one I live, it resonated with me. Political issues, social tensions, identity issues, family dynamics, friendships, and many more topics are situations we’re are currently experiencing.

What She Said:

“Blinded by the Light has a delightfully 80s DIY vibe to its musical numbers. Nothing feels too polished, and that’s points in its favour.”

Di Golding, Dear Cast and Crew

As a Chicana (Mexican/American) who’s faced many social tensions and identity issues, watching it unfold on the big screen gave me a notion that my own story was being portrayed. Javed isn’t only the son of an immigrant family, but he is also a writer! I’m an aspiring writer!! Understandably so this story is very similar to my own giving me pride and passion for others to watch this film.

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Music is a powerful medium we can connect to and many times be influenced by it. Unknowingly so music is around us every single day. We sing a special song when we turn a year older, we declare our love to someone with a song and equally so we may even overcome heartbreak by listening to a specific song. Movies, television shows, youtube videos (intros) and much more content have some type of music embedded. It’s no surprise that one individual can be heavily influenced and inspired by the music of an artist. Several artists have made an impact in my life, but not to the capacity that Springsteen had on Javed.

What She Said:

“Despite some of its heavier themes, Blinded by the Light maintains a lighthearted tone throughout, cognizant of its heartwarming nature that rests at its core.”

Mae Abdulbaki, The Young Folks
Twitter @MaeAbdu

The film beautifully intertwined the music with the story. Many scenes can be directly taken out of a music video. The lyrics being shown on a wall and orbiting Javed’s head adds to Javed’s connection to those specific songs. Although music is an important element of the film, it’s also about Javed and his journey to pursuing his dreams (with the guidance of music).

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The performances are excellent particularly Viveik Kaira, who did a phenomenal job. There’s a scene were 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. The supporting cast also did a great job.

Javed, his family, and close friends suffer discrimination due to their background, these scenes moved me. The film did an excellent job of taking a joyful scene and transitioning to the unfortunate reality. One scene I found compelling is Javed standing in the street, with a march 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.

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’s expected to do as told by his father without asking any questions. At one point, Javed believes he could never be a writer because, in his home, his opinions don’t matter, only his father’s.

What She Said:

“Blinded By the Light has something to say, it’s a revelation about finding yourself, with your figurative feet firmly set in two countries (and not allowing it to trip you up).”

Sherin Nicole, idobi.com

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’s gone through this). Again, these family conflicts are universal, making them relatable. There is a powerful scene where Javed and his father are arguing and ultimately his father yells out “you’re not British you are Pakistani, you are my son” for which Javed replies “I don’t want to be your son, I want to be more than that” summarizing Javed’s determination to follow his dreams. 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.”

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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”.

The Extra Bits

Where to watch:

“Blinded by the Light” was just released on Digital and will be released on physical media on Nov 19, 2019 (in the United States).

Who to Follow:

Gurinder Chadha @GurinderC

Sarfraz Manzoor @sarfrazmanzoor

Meera Ganatra @MeeraGanatra

Aaron Phagura @aaronphagura

Kulvinder Ghir @kulvinderghir

 

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