Blinded by the Light is a movie that will reach a hand to your very core, speaking to variedly oppressed souls, and embracing the amalgamating spirit that makes every human and their music one.
Gurinder Chandra, known for her work weaving the traditional struggles of Indians living in England with modern culturalism, presents the laden elements of Blinded by the Light with light-hearted comedic finesse and sincerity. The director loosely adapts the experience of British journalist Sarfraz Mansoor, who took to loving Bruce Springsteen the way that the movie’s protagonist Javed did. Safraz published a memoir titled “Greetings from Bury Park”, detailing the experience of growing up in Luton, where Blinded by the Light is set.
Blinded by the Light is about the music fan first and foremost, and so when this starts off being about a fan who loves Bruce Springsteen, it remains exactly that way. As opposed to the tale of a star who fights his/her way to an inspirational pedestal, this is about one face in a crowd and everything it took for the person just to be there. This story might as well be about you or me, and as a girl who grew up in an exceptionally conservative Indian Muslim household in a rapidly urbanising country (Singapore), Blinded by the Light was almost about me (except for the part where the protagonist is a mega-talented writer… and male).
The main cast of Blinded by the Light is charismatic in the most balanced ways. Pakistani, Javed is played by Viveik Kalra and his British girlfriend, Eliza is played by Nell Williams. The two portray their characters with naivete and youthfulness that makes them very normal, but imaginatively and relatably so. The film also benefits from the familiarity of a few familiar faces, namely Hayley Atwell who portrays Javed’s talent-piquing teacher Ms. Clay, and Rob Brydon who plays the father of Javed’s friend Billy.
The movie is thematically brilliant, depicting the beautiful, heart-wrenching dance of traditional values in an unhospitable Luton which wanted Pakistanis/Muslims gone, but gave home to them in vociferous embrace of ironic freedom and late-80s British pop culture. The movie delivers this as a sincere, jovial meal defined as much by its musical numbers as it is by its uncompromising moments.
Music manifests in the most genuine way possible in Blinded by the Light. Scene patterns leading to moments where Javed is left to his music function effectively, painting the powers of Bruce Springsteen’s music in the largest and smallest moments. With a mix of hard-hitting lyrical placement and personal struggles, the film truly captures the essence of what it’s like to be guided by music in moments of lost hope and desperation. It’s known fact that music tugs at our soul-strings and speaks to us in ways that words simply cannot explain. Blinded by the Light does the music justice.
Gurinder Chandra’s Blinded by the Light is a balanced, gripping work of art that magically packages some very personal experiences to make them immensely relatable. This movie is an overwhelmingly positive testament to the universal power of music. Where the love and talent for music are often depicted as being moulded through moments of suppression, Blinded by the Light is a gargantuan breath of fresh air, inspiring hope with the story of the face in the crowd, whether you have it better or worse.