“Blinded by the Light,” a new film about a Pakistani-British Bruce Springsteen superfan, has been added to the schedule of the Montclair Film Festival, and will be shown May 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School. The film’s director, co-writer and co-producer Gurinder Chadha — best known for directing, co-producing and co-writing the 2002 hit, “Bend It Like Beckham” — will participate in a post-screening question-and-answer session.
I attended an advance screening of this film a few weeks ago, and feel it’s a must-see for all serious Springsteen fans, evoking the magical, life-affirming quality in the music that makes them so devoted. It’s set in a specific time and place, of course, but feels universal.
That time is 1987, and the place is Luton, England, where teenager Javed (Viveik Kalra), has moved with his Muslim Pakistani family, in hopes creating a better life for themselves. Javed experiences discrimination and feels culturally out of place, but his life is changed when his friend, Roops (Aaroh Phagura), introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen. Listening obsessively to The Boss’ songs, Javed finds the inspiration to pursue his dream of a writing career; become romantically involved with a classmate, Eliza (Nell Williams); and stand up to his loving but stern father, Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), who has problems of his own, getting fired from his factory job and struggling to find employment elsewhere.
Springsteen agreed to let his music be used in the film, and there’s a lot of it. A times, the music seems to take on physical form, with lyrics, written on the screen, dancing around the characters, injecting them with strength and hope.
This will be the first New Jersey screening for the film, which is based on “Greetings From Bury Park,” the 2007 memoir by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor. It is being distributed by New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures.
For tickets and information, visit montclairfilm.org.
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