In a similar vein to Yesterday from earlier this year Blinded By The Light is a film that uses the music of a hugely popular artist, but isn’t telling their story. Instead Blinded By The Light uses the work of Bruce Springsteen as the backdrop to tell the coming-of-age story of Javed, a young British-Pakistani sixth form student living in Luton.
The film is directed by Gurinder Chadha, best known for her 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, and this is a similar film in many ways. It uses this hugely cultural phenomenon to give many people an insight into a minority community within Britain, in this case Pakistanis in Thatcherite Britain. Javed is someone who doesn’t feel particularly attached to either his Pakistani heritage, where his father won’t allow him to socialise much, or the British culture in Luton, where he faces frequent racism.
That is until one of the only other Asian students at his Sixth Form, Roops, introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, and he finally finds something that he is able to relate to. We see that with inspiration from Springsteen’s music Javed is able to find direction in his life with his passion for writing, and cultivate relationships with Roops and a student activist named Eliza he has a crush on.
But we see how Javed’s desire to chase his dreams comes more and more into conflict with the very traditional views of his family, particularly his father. And it is that seeming contradiction in his life that is really the core theme of Blinded By The Light. Viveik Kalra as Javed plays this, and the internal struggle within him, brilliantly. It is a fantastic performance from a young, and relatively unknown actor. Kulvinder Ghir as his father is exceptional as well, and some of the most emotionally charged scenes between the pair are fantastic.
Despite all of this, the film does rely heavily on the music of Bruce Springsteen. There are times where it feels as though the film is drifting too far into pure adulation of Springsteen, however in truth this is truly authentic to Javed and how it helps him grow as a person throughout the film. But if you don’t know his work well then it can be a little hard to connect to the music, even though Chadha does a great job with a lot of the sequences.
Whilst Blinded By The Light will certainly appeal more to Bruce Springsteen fans, there is a really lovely story underneath that will allow those who aren’t fans to still really enjoy the film.