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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Delightful and Inspiring
by James Colt Harrison

Often when people migrate from one region to another, they bring their traditions with them from the “old country.” Habits are hard to break, and human beings tend to follow familiar paths from the past. Such is the family of Malik, played by the excellent actor Kulvinder Ghir in Blinded by the Light.

Malik’s small family, composed of wife Noor (Meera Ganatra), young son Javed (Viveik Kalra) and daughter Shazia (Nikita Mehta) live in the London suburb of Luton, somewhat out in the country from London.

Javed is 16 and a boy with bright ideas who wants to be free of his father’s rigid rules and regulations. Dad wants to make all the decisions and have everybody jump to his every command, much as it was done back in their country of Pakistan. Javed rebels, of course, and wants to be like all the other kids in school—freer and happy doing teen-aged activities with his friends.

At first Javed gets bullied in school by the usual knot-heads and morons who spit on him. But he has one loyal British friend named Matt, who lives across the way in their complex. Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman) is a young kid of today, wild and different and very much into music. He writes songs and has Javed write the lyrics.

When Javed is introduced to the music of American recording star Bruce Springsteen, he goes nuts and falls in love with the meaning of the song’s lyrics. The songs give him a boost emotionally, and he is determined to write his own poetry, lyrics, and essays. Thinking this is all nonsense, his dad throws roadblocks at Javed’s desires.

Javed, you see, is very talented and can write poetry and essays that his teacher notices. She supports his creative efforts and encourages him to write. Although unsure of himself, he excels at school with his teacher’s backing. He also gets support from his first girlfriend Eliza, played by the charming British actress Nell Williams.

The music of Bruce Springsteen is interspersed throughout the film, although it is not, per se, a regular musical. However, we can enjoy Springsteen’s lyrics and the deep meanings they convey. Javed is overjoyed with his idol’s music, especially when he wins a contest and the prize is a trip to Springsteen’s Asbury Park birthplace. He goes to America with his best friend Roops, who is played by the swarthy and handsome Aaron Phagura.

The film, which is a true story based on the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, comes across as delightful and ultimately inspiring. Young Viviek Kalra brings charm and innocence to his role, and we learn to love him as a brother who is going through growing pains just as everybody else in the world does. The film shows that people are more or less the same all over the world.

Blinded by the Light, an enjoyable film, points out how prejudices infect populations everywhere, and how love triumphs in the end.

(Released by Warner Bros./ New Line Cinema and rated “PG-13” for for thematic material and language including some ethnic slurs.)

MORE ABOUT FILM’S DIRECTOR: Imagine my surprise when I found out that director Gurinder Chadha is a woman and not a man! Why it is assumed every movie director is male? There are many fine female directors working in Hollywood and around the world.

Ms. Chadha was born in Kenya in 1960 to Indian parents in the British colony. The family moved to London where they experienced much prejudice against them. She was a bit of a rebel herself and did not give in to the traditional role of women in Indian families. Therefore, she sat at the dining room table with the men and expressed her opinions and did not retreat to the kitchen to cook.

She graduated from the University of East Anglia and moved into a job as a reporter for BBC Radio. This led to some television work and then she moved into directing films. She received a BAFTA nomination for Best British Film of 1994 for her first effort Bhaji on the Beach. Her most popular film was Bend It Like Beckham, made about 18 years ago. It was considered a “chick-flick” at the time, but Chadha intended it to be a girl power movie with a message against prejudice of race and sexuality. It was a world-wide hit and the winner of many accolades.

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