Have you ever watched a movie that hit a nerve so deep you felt as if the producer and director created this just for you?
Blinded By The Light, a new film by writer / director and multi-award winning film, TV and theater production company, Bend It Networks, headed by Gurinder Chadha (the creator of Bend It Like Beckham) did precisely that! The story follows the life of Javed (Viveik Kalra), a middle-class Pakistani boy, his love of music, lyrics, words and the dual worlds he juggles—Pakistani at home and British out the door.
Set in the 1980s in the town of Luton, UK, Javed’s parents struggle to make ends meet. Javed’s mom is a seamstress, his father works in a factory and believes the only way to live a decent life is to keep your head low and plug on. Javed plugs on hiding his true identity, passion for music, words, creativity and a desire to live the wholesome happy life he believes his white friends live. However, when Javed listens to Bruce Springsteen’s music for the first time on his Walkman (yes, what we had in the 80s!! before music and everything else was downloaded, uploaded or streamed) his life turns upside down and Javed can’t contain a newfound passion and euphoria. It’s like Springsteen gets Javed. Is talking to him. At him. And connecting with him.
Javed advocates for Springsteen—the whole nine yards! He dresses like Springsteen, plays his records on the school radio, plasters his bedroom wall with Springsteen posters and this fandom gets Javed into more trouble than he could ask for. Now, I could never write a stunning movie review of Blinded By The Light and do justice to this film like writers Sheila O’Malley, Roger E Bert, and Brian Hiatt, Rolling Stone magazine have… so I’ll leave that to the experts.
What I can share is the depth of connection Ms. Chadha, a gifted director, producer, and creative film maker has struck with children of immigrants who grew up in that era.
Children like me.
I grew up in Hong Kong in the colonial era… at a time when British influence was huge in what-was-then the most peaceful and happy place to grow up. I led a privileged life and felt like white bread. Brown on the outside. White within. Our British school was affiliated with the University of Cambridge and housed over 36 nationalities from Asia, Britain and Europe to Africa, America, Australia and more… (I could go on but I’ll stop here)!
The front door of our apartment was my threshold…a visible boundary that distinguished my Indian life from my very British and multicultural life outside. My accent switched (still does) depending on who I was talking to as if on autopilot. Parents would listen to Indian music at home, my sisters and I were all the rave for Madonna, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, REM, Tiffany, Belinda Carlisle, Elton John and more. The differences weren’t just a generation gap but bridging several different cultures and beliefs—worlds apart.
The concept is hard to understand I supposed unless you’ve lived it. So when Bend It Like Beckham came out in 2002, I was ecstatic because I totally connected with Jasminder’s character, played by the talented Parminder Nagra and knew I wasn’t alone. There were obviously many me’s out there and many me’s who couldn’t play soccer either. But you get the idea…
Then two months ago in August… Blinded By The Light popped up in theatres. I was awestruck to say the least. As soon as the movie was over I wanted to rewind and restart because I wasn’t alone. There were many me’s out there and many me’s who now know they are not alone. You see, Ms. Chadha has given many me’s out there movies to anchor on to. Movies we can rewind and restart… to relive and remind ourselves: We Are Not Alone.
What was the last movie you watched that hit an emotional chord beyond the story itself? A chord deep at heart?