Javed is a timid and insecure teenage boy living in 1980s Luton, England — a place where British-Pakistanis like him face obstacles wherever they go.
In restaurants, he’s bullied. Along the road, he’s chased. At home, he encounters racist messages painted on the garage door.
Javed, though, has a way to escape the taunting: He writes, a lot. It also helps him flee the frustration of his life at home, where his traditional-minded father opposes his dreams of becoming an author or journalist.
“Writing isn’t a job,” his father says. “… Writing is for English people.”
And when the local newspaper turns Javed away — refusing to consider him for a position — Javed’s future seems bleak.
“We were born in the wrong time, in the wrong town, in the wrong family,” he tells his sister.
But then Javed’s friend introduces him to the music of a man named Bruce Springsteen. Immediately, Javed feels a connection to this New Jersey rocker’s blue-collar emphasis on hard work and never giving up. It’s as if Springsteen wrote these lyricsjust for Javed.
“It’s like Bruce knows everything I’ve ever felt,” Javed tells his friend. “… I didn’t know music could be like that.”
The feel-good film Blinded by the Light(PG-13) is now in theaters, telling the story of a high school-aged boy who finds hope, encouragement and even counsel in the words of Springsteen songs. Those tunes help him overcome racism, persevere through his father’s job loss and stay positive when his writing career seems hopeless.
The film stars Viveik Kalra as Javed, Kulvinder Ghir as his father, and Hayley Atwell (Captain Americanand Avengersseries) as the high school teacher who encourages him.
The movie was inspired by true events and recounts the racism journalist Sarfraz Manzoor encountered while growing up in Great Britain and the happiness he found in Bruce Springsteen music.
Fans of Springsteen will love Blinded by the Light, but even non-fans will enjoy its plot — and its thought-provoking topics.
Still, it has some PG-13 content that may give some moviegoers pause.
Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!
(Scale key: none, minimal, moderate, extreme)
Minimal. Javed and a friend are forced by bullies to move to another table in a restaurant; no punches are thrown. But later, we see men punching one another during a racist National Front parade.
Minimal/moderate. Teens kiss. We see a girl show up at the door when someone knocks, wearing only a long shirt. Javed and his girlfriend kiss while alone in his house. The camera cuts away, but it’s implied more happened.
Minimal: S–t (3), OMG (2), misuse of “God” (1), misuse of “Jesus” (1).
Other Stuff You Might Want To Know
Javed and his family are Muslim. Javed’s father tells him to do what the Jews do because they’re “successful.” (Javed is embarrassed by his dad’s comments.) Javed and his father have one or two shouting confrontations that might make parents uncomfortable if children are present.
Music is powerful: The music of a white rocker from New Jersey changed the life of a Pakistani man across the pond. (See Worldview/Application, below.)
Don’t waste your talents: God grants each one of us certain talents. They aren’t to be wasted. Javed’s teacher even argued he had a “responsibility” to use his gifts for the world.
Support your children: At its core, Blinded by the Lightis a clash of worldviews: the traditional culture of Javed’s father vs. the western focus on liberty and freedom. Javed’s father belittles his dreams and wants him to get a well-paying job to support the family. It’s painful to watch. Perhaps there was a way to please both sides. (Don’t worry: The film has a redemptive ending.)
A well-known Christian musician once told me that music is “supernatural.”
Perhaps this singer was onto something. It seems we are hard-wired to enjoy it.
Music stirs emotions. It changes attitudes. It can make you laugh … or cry. It even can help you remember. Have you ever heard a song that brought back memories — years after the event?
This isn’t news to God. He invented music. Music’s power is why he commanded the Israelites in the Old Testament and the church in the New Testament to sing to him.
Music’s power, though, means the modern-day musician has a responsibility to write songs for the good of society. Javed developed his worldview from rock music. In the end, the results were mixed.
- Why is music so powerful? What are your favorite songs? Your least favorite songs? Why?
- What is the role of music within the church? How can music help convey the gospel?
- What should Javed’s father have done differently? What should Javed have done differently?
- Is music too important in our society? How can families find the right balance?
Entertainment rating:3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating:3 out of 5 stars.
Blinded by the Light is rated PG-13 for thematic material and language including some ethnic slurs.