30th Aug2019

‘Blinded By the Light’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Aaron Phagura, Dean-Charles Chapman, Nikita Mehta, Nell Williams, Tara Divina, Rob Brydon, Frankie Fox, Hayley Atwell, Sally Phillips | Written by Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha, Sarfraz Manzoor | Directed by Gurinder Chadha


Blinded by the Light is directed by famed Indian/British director Gurinder Chadha – a sizeable and much-needed voice in British Cinema who has been a devotee of crafting and spreading stories of minorities since the early days of her work with the BFI in the 1990s. Bend It like Beckham brought her worldwide attention and critical acclaim; however, Chadha has been on the quiet end of her cinematic entities ever since. Crafting more Indian led stories to great success. She dived back into coming of age circuit with the cult hit Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, her first and only predominately white cast, but it would take another decade until Viceroys House in 2010 to cement her back into the mainstream, and here lies her return with the fabulous Blinded by the Light.

Chadha’s latest is a blast of poignancy, comedy and substantially relevant themes that curate Blinded by the Light into a wonderfully captivating feature that explores a wide range of issues with Chadha’s spirit running deeply through it. There is so much more here than the Bruce Springsteen musical vocabulary that acts more like a plot device to articulate the emotional gravitas and bravado of each sequence more than anything else. The heart of the film follows the societal pressures of being different in a white nation, as well as the systematic fears and racial prejudice that consumes people in fear.

The film covers some incredibly heavy and brutal themes, and that is where the chaser of Springsteen is injected to spark emotional instigation, with a perfect tonal balance that quite wonderfully plays very much like a subconscious release as it does for the main character of Javed. A splendid injection of humour, hope and love that elevates the material. Chadha does not shy away from the political underbelly of 1980s Tory Britain. It is a damning expose of Thatcher’s austerity and the growing far-right national front movement. It is shown in its full danger and hazardous potential of an ongoing issue that is fed by the Tory cuts. Credit where it is due, Chadha could have easily toned down or even cut out these alienating subplots but instead embraces them as what they are, and thoroughly explores parts of history we would all rather forget.

Blinded by the Light has a wonderful central performance from Viveik Kalra as Javed, who plays an impressionable but strong-willed Indian teenager who against all societal, political and economic odds strives for his dreams. Kalra is a charismatic and delightfully engaging lead that undoubtedly elevates the feature into an organic and raw highlight. It is the only negative one can even attempt to put forward upon Chadha’s latest is the fact that it is not wholly original and is comparable to much of her filmography, namely Bend It like Beckham. That being said, if it is not broken, why fix it? There is a voice here that serves an audience, who need to hear and see this story. Chadha is a much-needed voice within the British film industry, and her return to form with her latest feature is precisely where we all need her, in the limelight causing a storm.

Blinded by the Light is in cinemas now.


Comments are closed.