Gurinder Chadha made a big impact on British cinema with Bend It Like Beckham back in 2002, resonating with audiences and showing to them that no matter what nationality or race you come from, you can still follow your own dreams. That film was a surprise hit, and Chadha accomplishes the same feat with Blinded by the Light. Set in the late 80’s, it on a Pakistani high-schooler, who, after dealing with racism and pressures from his traditionalist family, is motivated to become a writer after hearing with the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen. Along the way, he tries to win the girl of his dreams and ends up clashing with his family, especially his strict father.
This is a wonderful and inspiring film that touches upon issues of xenophobia, family-feuds, economy, clashing ideologies, being suffocated by cultural tradition and how you can accomplish anything. Chadha and fellow co-writers Paul Mayeda Berges and Sarfraz Manzoor (on whom this story is based) have crafted an uplifting, feel-good story that’s inspirational and identifiable with audiences young and old. It wears its heart on its sleeve, and while certain audiences will probably complain that this film is either too formulaic or cliched, Chadha executes those cliches really damn well. At the heart of it all, it shows that Springsteen’s music didn’t just resonate with America, but everywhere else where hardships had been endured as well; particular focus is placed on the lyrics, and it’s through the poetry of the lyrics that make a dramatic impact on the central character’s life and goals, showing how music can reach anyone on an emotional level and how it can affect anyone of us.
The performances are equally spirited with Viveik Kalra delivering a breakout performance, perfectly pulling off the charm and charisma effortlessly while also managing to be heartfelt and emotional when needed. Kulvinder Ghir also gives an incredible performance as the father who perfectly balances strictness with nuance brilliantly, plus Nell Williams is simply delightful as the love of the main character’s life.
Blinded by the Light is one of 2019’s greatest gems, being a humourous, delightful, uplifting and inspiring coming-of-age tale that appeals to everyone, even if you aren’t a fan of Bruce Springsteen or know nothing of Manzoor’s personal life story. It’s the perfect companion piece to Bend It Like Beckham, wearing its heart on its sleeve while also not being afraid to tug at the heart-strings.
Dir: Gurinder Chadha
Scr: Gurinder Chadha, Sarfraz Manzoor, Paul Mayeda Berges
Cast: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura, Dean-Charles Chapman
Prd: Gurinder Chadha, Jane Barclay, Jamal Daniel
DOP: Ben Smithard
Music: A. R. Rahman
Run time: 117 mins
Blinded by the Light is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 9th.