Saved By Bruce

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Earlier this week I saw Blinded by the Light, the feel-good movie about a Pakistani teenager named Javed Kahn living in Luton, England during the Thatcher years.  Javed’s depressing life is transformed after he is exposed to the the music of Bruce Springsteen.  I wrote about the movie here.

I really enjoyed Richard Brody’s review of Blinded by the Light at The New Yorker. Here is my favorite paragraph:

Yet what’s heartwarming about “Blinded by the Light” is its pursuit of easy unanimity, which it achieves by borrowing plot elements that have the ring of authenticity and then sweetening and contrivedly assembling them so as to denature them. Javed’s life is changed one day at school, when a classmate named Roops (Aaron Phagura), who’s Sikh, approaches him and, in an encouragingly friendly gesture, offers him cassettes of two albums of his musical hero: “the Boss.” Javed is puzzled. Roops clears up the mystery: “The Boss of us all.” When Javed listens to Bruce Springsteen, the lyrics swirl around him on screen and he is transformed. What’s odd about the way that the movie handles Javed’s awakening is that its result is a monomaniacal fixation on Springsteen. Javed’s discovery of the Boss’s music doesn’t unlock the door to music for him, or to rock music, or to personal poetic rock at large, the way that a discovery of Beethoven might open up a world of classical music, or a discovery of François Truffaut might spark the discovery of cinema, or that of Virginia Woolf might ignite the discovery of novels. Rather, the movie looks benignly, even beatifically, at Javed’s cult of personality, as he fills his room with Springsteen posters, imitates Springsteen’s way of dressing, and seemingly listens to nothing but Springsteen’s albums. Far from sparking Javed’s curiosity, Springsteen sparks his incuriosity.

Read the entire review here.

*Blinded by the Light*: A Review

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I saw Blinded by the Light last night at a special “Fan Event” premiere.  (The movie officially opens tomorrow night).  While I don’t think this movie will win any Academy Awards (at least in the major categories), it was a lot of fun to watch.  Blinded by the Light is the very definition of a “feel good movie.”

The film explores the tensions between the Old World and the New World through the life of Javed Khan, a sixteen-year-old Pakistani boy in Margaret Thatcher’s England.  Javed wants to become a writer.  He feels oppressed by the traditions of his Pakistani home and his authoritarian father who is struggling to provide for his family during a period of recession.

This is all a pretty standard story line for immigrant movies until Javed encounters (through a Sikh friend) the music of Bruce Springsteen.  (He listens to Born in the USA and The River on cassette via his Walkman).  Springsteen speaks directly to Javed’s circumstances, but in the end Javed also realizes that the sense of longing and ambition in the Boss’s music must be balanced with roots, tradition and place.

The script is corny at times, and the plot is a pretty tired one, but the characters (especially Javed’s father) are very likable and the Springsteen soundtrack is worth the price of a ticket.  If you are Bruce fan, you will leave the theater with a smile on your face!

 

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Caroline liked *Blinded by the Light*

Gurinder Chadha Talks About the Making of *Blinded by the Light*

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I will be doing my best to see “Blinded by the Light” this week.  In the meantime, here is a great interview with director Gurinder Chadra:

Bruce Springsteen was born to run. Luckily, so was English film director Gurinder Chadha.

She ran into the Boss on a red carpet several years ago. When you want to make a movie using all his early music and then see him in the flesh, you don’t walk up to him. You sprint.

“I ran over and seized the moment. I said, ‘Hi Bruce! You gotta help us out. My name is Gurinder. I’m a film director. I made ‘Bend It Like Beckham,’ ” she recalled. ‘I said, ‘We really want to make a film of the book written by Sarfraz Manzoor about his life and how your music inspired him.’ ”

“To which, Bruce looked at Sarfraz who was there with me and said, ‘Sounds good. I read that book. It’s beautiful. Talk to my manager,’ ” said Chadha, 59, one of the few female film directors of Indian origin.

The end result — “Blinded by the Light” — is one the biggest deals coming out of the Sundance film festival this year, as the film sold to Warner Bros. for $15 million. Early reviews are calling it “the feel-good movie of 2019.”

“Blinded” revolves around a British-Pakistani teenager named Javid (Viveik Kalra), an aspiring poet who meets with the disapproval of his strict father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir). Life is bleak in their small town in England circa 1987. Dad has been laid off from the local plant and to cope with the despair and local racism, Javid becomes obsessed with the rocking music and inspirational lyrics of Bruce Springsteen….

What happened after you encountered Springsteen on that red carpet?

Sarfraz and I went away and wrote a script just for Bruce. We sent it to his manager and then came the waiting period. Finally, Bruce sent this message to his manager and it read: “I’m all good with this. Give them what they want.” Our timing was good because he has really been looking at his legacy and the impact of it.

Read the entire interview at Las Vegas Review-Journal.

I Can’t Wait to See This Movie!

Blinded by the Light is a new movie featuring the music of Bruce Springsteen.  Here is a description of the movie from Wikipedia:

Blinded by the Light is a 2019 British drama film directed by Gurinder Chadha. Inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his obsession with Bruce Springsteen, the film is set in Luton in 1987. Manzoor co-wrote the script. It premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and will be released in the United Kingdom on 16 August 2019, by New Line Cinema.

The official synopsis reads “Blinded by the Light tells the story of Javed (Viveik Kalra) a British teen of Pakistani descent, growing up in the town of Luton, England, in 1987. Amidst the racial and economic turmoil of the times, he writes poetry as a means to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the inflexibility of his traditional father. But when a classmate introduces him to the music of “the Boss,” Javed sees parallels to his working-class life in Springsteen’s powerful lyrics. As Javed discovers a cathartic outlet for his own pent-up dreams, he also begins to find the courage to express himself in his own unique voice.”

Here is the trailer: