Blinded by the Light is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
Inspired by the teenage life of writer Sarfraz Manzoor (Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock’n’ Roll), Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light is a delightfully warm and affectionate social commentary on 80’s Britain that fizzes with the music of Bruce Springsteen. Here Blinded by the light reimagines the story of Manzoor’s youth in Luton through music, race discrimination, social change, and generational upheaval. In creating this journey, Gurinder Chadha takes clear inspiration from Billy Elliott in both narrative and design, creating a coming-of-age movie that sings with originality and humour.
Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a British Pakistani young man growing up in Luton during the turbulent social changes of 1987. Here Javed longs to further his ambitions of becoming a writer, working on poetry while writing song lyrics for his best friend, Matt (Dean-Charles Chaplin). However, no matter how hard he tries to build a portfolio of work, his journalistic ambitions remain stifled by his father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir). Malik is deeply proud of his Pakistani roots and his family’s new life in Britain, but he also clashes with his children as they embrace British culture. For Malik, Javed’s future lies in medicine or law, not writing.
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Defying his father’s wishes, Javed signs up for sixth form college to study English Literature while telling his dad he is studying law. But as Javed settles into college life, he meets fellow outsider Roops (Aaron Phagura), a devoted Springsteen fan. Here Roops opens up Javed’s world to the power of the ‘Boss’, unleashing his creativity and the internal desire for change.
Set against the backdrop of the National Front protests of the 1980s, where violence and racism led to the further oppression of new communities in the UK, Blinded by the Light never shies away from the social upheaval present in towns like Luton during the 80s. Here its social commentary dovetails with themes of generational change and individual aspiration, much like Billy Elliot. Javed’s journey into writing echoes that of Billy’s into dance while exploring class and community. However, despite these similarities, Blinded By Light maintains a fresh aesthetic as it explores the power of music, words and self-expression in the face of social change and individual growth. Here music and imagination shine through from the factories of New Jersey to the car assembly plants and emerging new communities of South Bedfordshire.
Director: Gurinder Chadha