Based on the semi autobiographical by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor. Blinded by the Light is about Javed (Viveik Kalra) a teenager who has started college in 1987 in the town of Luton which is facing industrial decline and the rise in racism.
Javed grew up in a traditional Pakistani family, his dad works in a car factory and is soon to be made redundant. His dad would like Javed to have a professional job where he can earn good money, Javed wants to write instead but he thinks no one would be interested. When a college friend introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Javed finds the Boss's music talks to him directly and it enables Javed to find his own voice.
My parents used to talk about living in Luton. They must have hated it as they only stayed there for a few months and soon returned up north. Life in Luton during Mrs Thatcher's 1980s was not too different from many other towns. No jobs, no money and fascists wanting to blame immigrants. It is notable that this film is set in 1987 but the yuppies have yet to get to places like Luton. They only seemed to have existed in London at that time.
Blinded by the Light is a feel good movie with undercurrents of the political and economics circumstances of the 1980s. It is a fertile ground to incorporate Bruce Springsteen songs, particularly from albums such as The River and Darkness in the Edge of Town. These albums had songs which resonated with blue collar workers in the USA that were facing job insecurity and young people heading towards a life of uncertainty.
The film also shows that Springsteen's songs cuts across class, nationality, race and religion. It is this which elevates the movie. Javed, a young lad of Pakistani origin and his friend Roops, a sikh are inspired by the Boss's music and find meaning in their lives.
What lets the movie down is the well worn cliche of the Asian son and father having differences when it comes to growing up.
The film contains twelve Springsteen songs including an unreleased song that he originally wrote for the first Harry Potter film but was unused. Given that the Boss can be notorious in allowing clearance for his music to be used in movies, in effect this film had his blessing and I was surprised he did not end up with a Producer credit.
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