Whether it forces a cringe or not, it still forces a smile, and that should certainly be celebrated
Diversity is great, isn’t it? For years director Gurinder Chadha has been producing tongue-in-cheek dramas, looking at the lives of those living in the UK with immigrant heritage; never shying from the problems they have faced in the past, and still confront today. Blinded By The Light looks at both internal and external problems, without belittling anything that means something to someone.
Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a young British-Pakistani living in a small estate near Luton. Over-crowded and under-appreciated by his family and his city, Javed feels like a lost boy in a world that doesn’t understand him. However, when school friend Roops (Aaron Phagura) lends him a Bruce Springsteen tape, Javed learns that there are those out there speaking to him, with exactly the same outlook on life.
By opening up such a grounded story, Blinded By The Light is allowed to run with its dreams, becoming a wonderful coming of age feature about finding oneself, gaining acceptance for and from those around you, and finding ways to do what you love. With its vibrant 80’s setting and particularly British feel, it becomes a modern day gem that knows how great things can be, even at the hardest of times.
Led by newcomer Viveik Kalra, there’s a joyous sense of celebration to the piece, which admittedly overpowers some of the darker, more solemn moments, but works particularly well in the uplifting, song-heavy sections of the film. More than enough of these end up especially cringe worthy, but Chadha’s work has been doing that for almost her entire career. It shouldn’t be unexpected, and comes as part of the work she makes. Whether it forces a cringe or not, it still forces a smile, and that should certainly be celebrated.
Enjoyable and engaging, Blinded By The Light is firmly a Chadha film, but also a piece that looks for the good in the world we currently struggle through, and how diversity can cross cultural divides and how far it has come. It doesn’t pose questions, but that’s okay. Too many features feel they need to challenge the current global strife, rather than looking at objectively how far general society has come in a relatively short amount of time.
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