BLINDED BY THE LIGHT – Review by Susan Granger

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With this heartwarming, intergenerational dramedy about a Pakistani/British teen who falls in love with Bruce Springsteen’s music, Gurinder Chadha (“Bend It like Beckham”) delivers one of the last – and best – cinematic gifts of the summer.

Settling in the tiny, working-class town of Luton, Javed Khan’s (Viveik Kalra) family were among the first Pakistanis on the block, inciting anti-immigrant racism from National Front fascists that continues on a daily basis. And when Javed’s stern father (Kulvinder Ghir) loses his job in 1897, things only get worse.

One day, a Sikh pal (Aaron Phagura) gives him cassette tapes of “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Suddenly, listening to Springsteen’s lyrics, Javed realizes he’s not alone in his confusion about identity, romance and yearning to escape. Basically, Javed’s world changes!

Javed yearns to be a writer but no one takes him seriously until, one day, in high school, an English teacher (Hayley Atwell) reads some of his work. That opens yet another door, one that leads him to Asbury Park, New Jersey, to visit the birthplace/home of The Boss.

Curiously, the concept bears several similarities to “Yesterday” (2019) since both are set in England, rely on classic rock songs and introduce British-born Indian actors in the leads. But “Yesterday” was fantasy, while “Blinded” is based on a true story.

Adapted from British/Pakistani journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s 2007 memoir “Greetings from Bury Park,” it’s adapted and directed by Gurinder Chadha who, along with her co-writing husband Paul Mayeda Berges, creates a character-driven, coming-of-age story about confronting family tradition. Sure, it’s over-simplified and cheesy, at times – but the emotional resonance remains.

A devoted Springsteen fan, Ms. Chadha received special permission from The Boss not only to use his songs throughout the film but also to feature “Jungleland” as National Front white supremacists march through Luton.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Blinded by the Light” is a thoroughly enjoyable 8, a jubilant tribute to the way pop songs can ignite our lives.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.