Scoot: “Blinded ByThe Light” – music of Springsteen inspired a Muslim teenager to reach his dreams

August 19, 2019 - 1:03 pm

What do you think the reaction would be if you walked into a Hollywood producer’s office and said you had this idea for a movie script:

A British-Pakistani Muslim teenager has dreams of being a journalist against the strong objection of his domineering father.  The teenager is introduced to the music of Bruce Springsteen in 1987 - after Springsteen had reached a top peak - and the teen is inspired by the lyrics of Springsteen’s songs to overcome obstacles and reach his dream of becoming a journalist.

Do you think a movie producer would think you were crazy?  That is essentially the basis of the comedy-drama “Blinded By The Light,” a newly released movie now playing at theaters across the country.  It's based on the book, “Greetings From Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N; Roll” by renowned journalist Sarfray Manzoor.

The idea of that plot about the life of a British-Pakistani Muslim teenager growing up in Great Britain in 1987 and using the lyrics of The Boss as inspiration to become a well-respected journalist is so bizarre it would never have been made into a feature film if it were not based on a true story!

“Blinded By The Light” is fun, meaningful, insightful, and sentimental; but, most of all, it is motivating.

Set in Luton, one of the UK’s largest towns without having city status in the late-1980s, the movie tells the story of Javed, a nerdy teenager with the dream of becoming a writer who feels trapped in the racial and economic turmoil of the times.  Javed’s dream contradicts what his father believes is in the best interest of his son and the family.  Javed’s desire to become a journalist with a voice is challenged by the accepted norms of his family and the town in which he lives. 

As a teenager growing up near the end of communism, Javed, excellently portrayed by Viveih Kaira, is a prolific poetry writer and tells his friends that he wants to write about nuclear war and Reaganomics, which draws a predictable reaction.  Javed was seen as a bit of an oddball, but discouragement from his friends was accepted as part of his challenge to succeed.

Deep in frustration over the obstacles he was facing, a student friend of Javed gave him a cassette of Bruce Springsteen and that moment would prove to be the moment everything changed for Javed.  Though he didn’t listen to the tape right away, the instant he did, Javed heard the lyrics reflect where he found himself in life.  Not only did Springsteen’s lyrics give comfort to Javed’s plight in life, but the lyrics also served as a beacon signaling hope and optimism that he could endure the present and conquer the challenges that lie ahead.       

The first song Javed heard on the Springsteen tape was the song “Dancing In The Dark,” and at that moment he realized that The Boss knew everything he was feeling.  More Springsteen songs gave Javed the sense that he “ain’t a boy, no, I’m a man - and I believe in the promised land.”

“The Promised Land,” “Born To Run,” “Badlands” and “The River” were among the hits that recurred throughout the movie.  If you never took time to appreciate the meaning of Springsteen’s lyrics, “Blinded By The Light” highlights some of the insightful lyrics he wrote.  So fitting were the lyrics to scenes in the movie, getting chills became part of the movie experience.

The struggle between young Javed and the traditions of his Pakistani father mirrored the relationships of many sons and fathers.  Javed’s father demanded unquestioned devotion to his wishes - while Javed tacitly pursued his dream of becoming a writer.  Their differences exploded when his father was made away of his son’s dreams.  Javed saw his father as a man who was never able to fulfill his dreams and became obsessed with the desire to find his place in life.

“Blinded By The Light” is a simple movie with the ambience of an independent film, but that is appropriate for the working class themes and dreams.  Let the movie come to you, and allow the characters to define themselves.

Rotten Tomatoes give the movie a rating of 91%.  Metacritic gave it 71 out of 100.  A CinemaScore poll graded the movie A-. and PostTrak rated it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

“Blinded By The Light” is rich with feelings and gives hope to those who struggle to bust out of the status quo that surrounds their lives.  It is about hope, and the ending of the movie reveals enlightenment.

“Born To Run” was used several times in the movie; and it was a perfect choice considering where Javed was in his life and where he hoped to be… “It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap.  We gonna get out while we’re young - ‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run”…..

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