Blinded by the Light Parent Guide
A joyous, exuberant film that celebrates family, following dreams, and great rock and roll.
Parent Movie Review
Javed Khan (Viveik Kalra) feels trapped. He’s “stuck in Luton. No fun, freedom or future. Because Luton is a four letter word.”
Javed’s not just trapped in a nowhere town – he’s also constrained by his family’s expectations. His father, Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), immigrated to England from Pakistan, seeking a better future for his family. But the 1980s recession has cost Malik his job and he’s stuck in a spiral of unemployment and financial stress. He wants his son to study hard, stay away from girls, and become a doctor or lawyer so he will be financially secure. Javed, on the other hand, wants to kiss a girl, become a writer, and get out of Luton. There’s plenty of kindling here for family conflict, but “you can’t start a fire without a spark”.
The spark comes in the form of Bruce Springsteen’s music. The lyrics speak to Javed on a visceral level and provide the catalyst for him to follow his dreams. But in the Boss’s words, “You want it, you take it, you pay the price.” Will Javed be able to reach for his dreams or will the price be too high?
Director Gurinder Chadha deserves credit for creating a warm, emotionally honest drama about adolescence, cultural adjustment, and the power of family ties to heal and hurt. It would be easy to demonize Javed’s parochial father, but Chadha instead shows his vulnerability and love for his family. Kulvinder Ghir’s portrayal humanizes Malik and is only one of the many outstanding performances in the film. Meera Ganatra brings to life his faithful, weary wife, and creates one of the most poignant moments in the movie. And Viveik Kilra shines as Javed, bringing a wide-eyed openness and thousand watt smile to his irresistible young character.
Best of all, this joyous story isn’t drowned in a tide of disturbing content. There are scattered profanities in the movie and mild sexual activity, consisting primarily of teens kissing passionately. The biggest concern here is racially motivated violence: a character is spat at, a youth urinates through a mail slot, a white supremacist march leads to physical altercations and minor injury with a small amount of blood.
But the negative content in Blinded by the Light is far outweighed by the movie’s many positive messages. This is a film that celebrates family, in all its annoying, maddening, quirky messiness. It affirms the power of cultural roots to both aggravate and anchor us. It speaks to the importance of friendship and the need to understand and forgive. It unabashedly encourages education, persistence, hard work, ambition, developing talents, and following dreams. And it delivers these messages without being preachy or pedantic. Instead, this is a sweet, exuberant film, pulsing with the energy of youth and Bruce Springsteen’s music. If “everybody’s got a hungry heart”, this movie is a great way to start filling it up.Directed by Gurinder Chadha. Starring Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, and Rob Brydon. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release August 14, 2019. Updated August 13, 2019
Watch the trailer for Blinded by the Light
Blinded by the Light
Rating & Content Info
Why is Blinded by the Light rated PG-13? Blinded by the Light is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic material and language including some ethnic slurs.
Violence: Television news broadcasts show protest marches with some conflict and a brief image of a police officer with a bloody face. Another broadcast shows riots and fires. A man spray paints a racist term on a wall, spits on a Pakistani teen and follows him. A boy urinates through a door’s mail slot: there is no graphic detail. There is mention of a pig’s head being hung from a mosque minaret. White supremacists march through the streets and attack people of Asian descent. A man is injured and blood is seen on his face and clothes. A girl uses a placard to hit one of the white supremacists. A man and teen struggle and the man destroys something the teen values.
Sexual Content: A teenage couple kiss and embrace passionately on several occasions. A character uses a slang term which compares listening to a singer for the first time to losing one’s virginity. A character jokes briefly about a fertility symbol.
Profanity: There are approximately 18 uses of coarse language, consisting primarily of scatological words, terms of deity and ethnic slurs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A man pours alcohol for two adults and two teens – no one is shown drinking it and one of the teens doesn’t drink for religious reasons, despite social pressure from the man.
Page last updated August 13, 2019
Blinded by the Light Parents' Guide
Does your family have important cultural traditions or expectations? Do you find them reassuring or frustrating? To what extent are your goals based on your family’s cultural background?
Javed is inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics. What music has inspired you? If you could write a soundtrack for your life what music would you choose?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
This film is based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir, Greetings from Bury Park. Read the book for his story about the transformative power of music.
Do you share Javed’s fascination with Bruce Springsteen’s songs? For an in-depth look at the Boss’s songs, you will want to read Brian Hiatt’s Bruce Springsteen: The Stories Behind the Songs. For another look at the music, check out Ryan White’s Springsteen: Album by Album.
Bruce Springsteen tells his own story in his autobiography, Born to Run. Peter Ames Carlin has also written a biography of Springsteen, entitled Bruce.
Related home video titles:
Director Gurinder Chadha is also responsible for Bend It Like Beckham, which tells the story of another child of South Asian immigrants trying to balance parents’ expectations with personal goals. In this film, Jessminder Bhamra wants to play soccer but her traditional parents expect her to get married.
Gurinder Chadha takes another look at marriage in Bride & Prejudice, a Bollywood-style makeover of the classic Jane Austen novel, Pride & Prejudice.
Another South Asian in Britain with musical dreams stars in Yesterday. Jack Malik is a failed musician until he hits his head during a worldwide blackout and wakes up, only to discover that he’s the only person who remembers The Beatles.
A young Scottish woman is obsessed with country music. But her past might make it difficult for her to reach her dreams in Wild Rose.
A father and his daughters struggle with changing cultural expectations as the dad wants to arrange his daughters’ marriages and they wish to choose their own husbands in the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof.