Music has the special ability to transport us. Whether it’s to a different place, time, memory or even state of mind, it’s an experience that hits us hard in our adolescence — a time where we are finding ourselves, our identities and place in the world.
For young Javed in Blinded By The Light, that experience is told in an exceptionally beautiful way.
An indie coming-of-age musical about a shy young poet who dreams of getting out, Javed (played by Viveik Kalra), stumbles upon the music of Bruce Springsteen and, in a moment of isolation, comes alive when he hears the lyrics from the Boss’s hit “Dancing In The Dark” play through his Walkman cassette player.
“I check my look in the mirror
I want to change my clothes, my hair, my face
Man I ain’t getting nowhere
I’m just living in a dump like this
There’s something happening somewhere
Baby I just know that there is”
As the lyrics spill all over the screen in sweet music-meets-film synchronicity, Javed drowns himself in the music. And in that moment — a moment I feel many lost, adolescent kids can relate to — he feels seen. He feels heard in a way he hasn’t before. And goodness, is it beautiful.
As a young music lover and writer myself, I saw a lot of myself in this movie. Inspired by the real life story and memoir Greetings From Bury Park by Sarfraz Manzoor (a big Bruce Springsteen fan himself), director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) really brought his story to life in an entertaining, engaging and endearing way. Almost like a love letter to Bruce, the film perfectly captures the beauty of falling in love with music — and finding yourself through it — at a young age.
Taking place in 1987 small town of Luton, Britain, the film tells the story of a young Indian-Pakistani boy growing up in white Britain. Seeing the story of an incredibly relatable protagonist through the lens of the Pakistani background was fascinating to watch. The family relationships and racism present in their encounters in the schools and streets, with Javed biting his tongue and using the music of Bruce to propel him forward gave him the courage to do things he wouldn’t have otherwise — such as screaming through the halls of his high school with his best friend Roops (Aaron Phagura) blasting American “dad” music through the speakers (to others’ dismay), to asking Eliza (Nell Williams), a girl in his literature class, on a date — were silly, endearing moments that made this film entirely enjoyable.
The music of Bruce seemed to become the lens through which Javed began to find himself, and the way director Chadha blended the music and story to pay homage to Bruce while still keeping its storyline intact is something to be recognized.
As the movie is a sort of coming-of-age as Javed realizes his real potential as a writer, especially through the eyes of his English teacher Miss Clay, I began to see a lot of myself in Javed at this point.
“It’s your job as a writer to give a voice,” Miss Clay prompts him.
Javed, a seemingly tired and angsty teenager against the world, wants to write about what’s real and what’s true for his experience as a British-Pakistani kid living in 1980s Britain, and like all young dreamers, that encouragement means the world.
It isn’t until a teacher or someone older than you sees something special in you, that you begin to believe in yourself and your potential.
The film received a standing ovation at Sundance earlier this year and received a $15 million sale to set this movie off. The official trailer for Blinded By The Light also premiered today through Warner Brothers Studios.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you to see this movie when it comes out, it’s nice to know that the cast themselves are kids my own age who are such a humble delight and newcomers to Hollywood (but I am sure to breakout after this film). It was an absolute pleasure to attend the advanced VIP screening and party for Blinded By The Light last month, here in Los Angeles.
Blinded By The Light is set for an August 14, 2019 release.