BLINDED BY THE LIGHT was edited to fit the 45rpm record; the lyrics in bold above are edited out on the single version. The data collected include number of visits, average time spent on the website, and the what pages have been loaded.
blinded by the light song bruce – This Springsteen Fan Has Been To 150 Shows
The Boss works in mysterious ways. Javed’s family is stopped when a National Front parade blocks the road. When his dad asks them to move out of the way, he is attacked by parade participants. Other male members of his family jump in, and police break up the fight with batons. But not before his dad is given a bloody nose. Javed and his dad get into a brief physical altercation.
I first saw Blinded by the Light at Sundance in January. It is overwhelmingly sincere and quite cheesy. I wanted to scoff, to be above it and critical — and yet I could not stop smiling. There are flaws: The lyric overlay and voiceovers are unnecessary, the actual narrative is a bit bland and frankly I don’t know what to tell you about the aggressively overwrought coming-of-age cliches e.g. that auditorium speech. But somehow that doesn’t matter. The film’s effectiveness at conveying the power of music is immense. To an embarrassing, potentially detrimental, degree, Blinded by the Light taps into the visceral feeling of falling in love with music for the first time, and, honestly, nothing about that experience or this movie is chill.
Springsteen’s deification — his establishment respectability and current status as a venerable liberal — confirms that rock-and-roll rebellion” has become the safest kind of conventionality. Javed takes Springsteen as an icon of the personal and social goals he seeks for himself. But through Javed’s supposedly enlightened infatuation, director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) also misrepresents the history of pop diversity. Blinded by the Light actually avoids everything that is interesting about cross-ethnic pop culture.
This all builds to a predictable breaking point, and there are many moments (setting aside Javed’s touching relationships with his sisters) that feel plotted and predictable. Those that don’t, like Chada’s decision to use word clouds to swirl lyrics around Javed’s music-besotted head, often seem awkward.
Chadha seems convinced that audiences will forgive her movie’s rough edges as long as they care about Javed’s journey, and maybe they will. But I suspect she’s also counting on those audiences not to care that it’s a journey they’ve seen many, many times before… just with a better soundtrack.
Javed and Roops take the trip to the States. It inspires Javed to write something new. Back home, Noor tells Malik to reconcile with Javed and reminds him that he left his own family and country at a young age. Eliza recruits Javed’s family to show up in support when he reads his winning essay. Instead of reading his essay, Javed talks about how ” Blinded By The Light ” mirrors his father’s troubles. Everyone is moved. He reconciles with Eliza and thanks her for inviting his family. Malik reconciles with Javed and tells him that he has listened to Springsteen and admires the themes of working hard and respecting one’s family. As Javed leaves for university, he and Malik listen to Springsteen together.
Another reason that Chadha wanted to make the movie as broadly accessible as possible: It would be a giant middle finger to everyone who doubted that a brown woman could ever belong in the mainstream. It just made me want to go out and be even more commercial and even more universal and prove that I can take a story like this and make it work for us, as well as for you,” she said.
They’re eking out a middle class life when Javed’s father is laid off from the local auto factory — another casualty of Thatcher’s economic policies. The cultural life around Javed doesn’t offer much more in the way of salvation. His pal Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman) insists synths are the future.” And his ’80s high school is divided by questionable musical taste: Wham boys” and Bananarama girls.” Luton, too, isn’t very welcoming of outsiders like Javed’s family; neo-Nazi thugs bully the town’s Pakistani immigrants.
Javed is rejected as a writer by the school paper. At the same time, Vauxhall Motors lays off Malik. Frustrated by racism and Malik’s inability to understand him, Javed discards his poems on the night of the Great Storm of 1987 After listening to the Springsteen tapes, the lyrics immediately speak to him, and he recovers his poems. At school, Javed excitedly tells Roops that Springsteen knows exactly how he feels. Inspired to continue writing, he submits his poetry to Ms. Clay. A neighbour, Mr. Evans, recovers one of Javed’s poems that decries the National Front , who are planning a local march. As a World War II veteran, Mr. Evans sympathizes with Javed’s feelings and calls the poem brilliant, but Javed’s parents are less appreciative.
Adding to the semi-reality of the film is the setting. Blinded By The Light filmed in Manzoor’s actual hometown of Luton, England. The production spared no detail, even using the actual papers and poems Manzoor wrote to decorate Javed’s room and purchasing the exact car Manzoor drove as a teen. The production also used places Manzoor actually frequented — including a Luton café called Greenfields that still uses the same laminated menus from the ’80s. It was great for authenticity, but this huge film crew filming everything from quiet diner conversation to high-energy musical numbers set to “Born To Run” in this tiny town truly shocked most of the locals.
Listen to Looch: talking about ‘Blinded by the Light’ ‘Blinded by the Light,’ a new film inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen, opens Friday, Aug. 16. Mary Lucia talks with a colleague who got to see an early screening of the film.
Indeed, Blinded By The Light works so well because it never becomes a full story of rebellion. Instead, it reflects the dilemma of towing the trickiest of lines between keeping your family happy and at the same time carving your own destiny. Here, it is presented in the tricky relationship between Javed and Malik – which forms the film’s emotional core.
Days before last January’s rapturous Sundance premiere of Blinded by the Light ,” director Gurinder Chadha was struggling with her decision to cut the best scene in the entire film. It’s just not going to work,” she remembered thinking. It’s too fucking corny. And we’re already going to get it in the neck from so many cynical British people who are going to think the movie is cheesy as hell.” She took it out.
According to Springsteen, he wrote the song by going through a rhyming dictionary in search of appropriate words. The first line of the song, “Madman drummers, bummers, and Indians in the summers with a teenage diplomat” is autobiographical—”Madman drummers” is a reference to drummer Vini Lopez , known as “Mad Man” (later changed to “Mad Dog”); “Indians in the summer” refers to the name of Springsteen’s old Little League team; “teenage diplomat” refers to himself. 1 The remainder of the song tells of many unrelated events, with the refrain of “Blinded by the light, cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night”.
All this changes when a Sikh acquaintance (Aaron Phagura, in the wacky best friend part) slips Javed a cassette of Born in the USA,” and the words to Dancing in the Dark” — I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face” — quite literally jump out of the Walkman headphones and up onto the screen. In Bruce Springsteen, Javed has found his voice, his muse — the organizing principle for his rebellion.
Given all this, one would assume that I’m the ideal audience for Blinded by the Light,” director Gurinder Chadha’s strenuously crowd-pleasing chronicle of a second-generation Pakistani teen whose obsession with Springsteen helps him find his voice during the dark days of Thatcher’s England. Loosely based on journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park,” the movie is a brightly-colored, overly-effusive affair preaching the gospel of Bruce. In many ways, it’s nearly a replica of Chadha’s 2002 smash Bend it Like Beckham,” just as relentlessly upbeat and occasionally embarrassing. To be honest, I spent at least half of the running time rolling my eyes, but every once in a while it won me over.
Springsteen’s lyrics are about unsung heroes who yearn for something better than what they’ve been dealt, a form of conflict Chadha approaches with a level of optimism that almost feels bold in this oft-cynical era of entertainment. She works to find common ground, most prominently between Javed, who pursues his writing career behind his parents’ back, and his father, who eventually comes around.
The plot is complicated when Javed’s family fall on financial hard times, and their situation is exacerbated by the pernicious presence of racists. Although Blinded By The Light contains very few instances of swear words, there is frequent use of a racial slur: in verbal insults, in graffiti, on placards and chants by fascist National Front marchers, even by a group of children who urinate in the mail slot of a Pakistani family’s home. Through it all, Javed finds refuge and courage in the music of Bruce Springsteen; he discovers his voice, and he meets new friends and allies along the way.
Blinded by the Light can’t quite reconcile these jubilant sequences with the harder territory it wanders into. Chadha’s clear-eyed, socio-economic detail eventually succumbs to her uplifting coming-of-age mandate, and genuinely tense family moments give way to one of the year’s cheesiest endings — complete with a poetry reading in front of the school assembly, through which tumbleweeds might as well roll.
Blinded by the Light is the latest film from Chadha, who is perhaps best known for her 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham – yeah, the one with Keira Knightley. Blinded By The Light is as funny as it is authentic. Like Bend It Like Beckham, Chadha mixes humor (there’s a lot), hope, social activism and full-on musical numbers into a wonderfully balanced and entertaining film.
To add to Javed’s sense of dislocation, more than once his father reminds his teenage son that he is Pakistani, not British. Can the music of a rock singer from New Jersey inspire a British-Pakistani boy in Luton, England? Maybe. Reel Family Time is an occasional feature where Entertainment Editor Lee Clark Zumpe and his daughter, B.C. Zumpe, share their thoughts on family films.
A teen of Pakistani descent growing up under the austerity of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain finds a source of joy in the music of Bruce Springsteen. Based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s acclaimed memoir Greetings from Bury Park, Blinded by the Light” is a joyful story of courage, love, hope, family and the unique ability of music to lift the human spirit.
As subtle as a power chord to the face and just as effusively infectious, this Bruce Springsteen-afflicted coming-of-age gem is slightly sloppy but as earnest as they come. How did Manzoor, 48, afford that many shows? And was it tough to get Springsteen’s blessing to use so many of his biggest hits in the film? We sat down with the author-turned-screenwriter to get some answers.
Javed, played by Viveik Kalra, writes poetry in his room while inspired by Bruce Springsteen. But even if you’ve never dug Springsteen’s music or you’re unfamiliar with all but a few of his songs, this is a story with familiar, universal, relatable elements.
Set in the 1980s in the small town of Luton, Javed’s family struggles to make ends meet in the crushing recession of the late Thatcher era, battling economic strife, rising nationalism, and racist attacks. Javed’s mother ( Meera Ganatra ) works out of their home as a seamstress, and his father ( Kulvinder Ghir ) works at a nearby factory. Layoffs loom. Parental expectation weighs heavily on Javed, who hides not just his dream of being a writer from his parents, but almost every other aspect of his personality. He’s not allowed to have a social life, a girlfriend, independence. (Javed’s father says to him at one point, “Pakistanis do not go to parties.” Javed replies, “I thought I was British.”) His best friend Matt ( Dean-Charles Chapman ) is swept up in the New Wave scene, and Javed writes lyrics for Matt’s songs, feeling frustrated and trapped.
One advantage of Springsteen on Broadway, I said before I’d even seen the show, was that it warded off the Springsteen jukebox musical that might otherwise have been inevitable. For better or for worse, Blinded by the Light gives us an inkling of what that might’ve looked like.
One need not be a Springsteen scholar to enjoy the movie. Javed’s journey from a despondent, disconnected child to a boy whose life spans boundaries — generations, races, religions, nationalities, even musical tastes — transforms us, too, with its exuberance. Chadha does a magnificent job of translating, in a sweetly celebratory film, her sophisticated ideas about how all of us transcend our own challenges.
In one scene, the lyrics to Promised Land – “take a knife and cut this pain from my heart” – are literally projected larger than life over the top of Javed. I don’t know if there will ever be a formal Bruce Springsteen musical or biopic, but Blinded by the Light is perhaps the best manifestation of his music you could hope for in a film. Hearing his songs played over a Dolby sound system is a real damn treat. Experiencing his music through this fresh perspective made me appreciate how much his lyrics resonate with our current politics, culture and economic struggles here in the US and UK.