These Words Paid for My Dream

Blinded by the Light

Director: Gurinder Chadha

Cast: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Aaron Phagura, Hayley Atwell, Dean-Charles Chapman, Nell Williams, Sally Phillips, Frankie Fox

Sometimes it’s the small British films which are the most impressive.

Bend it like Beckham and Viceroy’s House director Gurinder Chadha returns with a delightful coming of age story Blinded by the Light a comic snapshot of an Immigrant Pakistani family living in Luton, Northern England in the dark end of the 1980’s during Margaret Thatcher’s iron grip on Britain.

Blinded by the Light is set in 1987 and focuses on the dreams and aspirations of Javed beautifully played by Viveik Kalra whose struggling to find his identity as a British Asian young male who is harbouring dreams of becoming a successful writer.

Viveik Kalra has already won the breakthrough actor’s award at the Seattle International Film Festival and his performance as Javed is spot on, a tortured teenager dealing with an overbearing father, a claustrophobic family and an urge to break free out of Luton, which in 1987 was rife with racial intolerance, economic recession and hardship.

When Javed is sent to the local college to do his A Levels he is encouraged to continue writing poetry and find his own voice by his free thinking English Literature teacher Ms Clay played by Hayley Atwell (Brideshead Revisited, The Duchess). More significantly he befriends Roops played by Aaron Phagura who introduces him to the working class music of The Boss, the New Jersey singer Bruce Springsteen who become famous in the early 1980’s. Instantly Javed identifies with the lyrics of Springsteen who becomes his role model.

Springsteen’s music helps Javed find his writing voice much to the horror of his conservative father who keeps thinking that Springsteen is a Jewish American.

Blinded by the Light deals with more than one teenager’s musical obsession, as director Gurinder Chadha makes insightful comments on racism, following one’s dreams and the economic sacrifices an immigrant family has to make when moving to a new country: in this case Britain in the 1980’s.

Soon Javed discovers his inner writing talent, learns to stand up to his father and even travels to New Jersey after winning a literary competition. Blinded by the Light is a wonderful musical drama focusing on one young man’s dream to leave his bigoted hometown and discover his real talent. In a poignant scene when Javed confronts his hard-working conservative father Malik played by Kulvinder Ghir, he states that “These words paid for my dreams” after he writes an article for the Luton Herald about the local Mosque being threatened with imminent closure.

Blinded by the Light is a gem of a film and gets a rating of 8 out of 10.

Audiences will love this heartwarming story of Javed whose literary dreams are inspired by the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen, although this distinctly British film is personal, relevant and less flashy.

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