BLINDED BY THE LIGHT is a joyous, coming-of-age story about a teenager who learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.
JAVED is a 16-year-old British Pakistani boy growing up in the boring, industrial city of Luton. It’s 1987, unemployment and the National Front are on the rise and Javed feels trapped, all he dreams of is escaping. He wants what all teenagers want – a girlfriend, the freedom to go to parties – but most of all he wants to be a writer.
Unfortunately, his family have other ideas of how Pakistani boys should behave. They expect Javed to work hard to help the family and give his wages to his Dad, who runs the household. Javed knows his only way to get out of town is to do well at school so he has the chance to leave for university.
On his first day at his new school, Javed runs into a boy in the hall and a cassette tape falls out of the boy’s Walkman – Bruce Springsteen. Javed knows nothing about him but when he first hears Bruce’s music – everything in his life changes. Javed feels like Bruce is speaking directly to him and understanding everything he thinks and feels. Through exhilarating musical sequences, we see how Javed relates Bruce’s words about feeling trapped in New Jersey to his own life in Luton – Bruce’s lyrics are all about yearning to escape just like Javed, suddenly his world is full of hope and possibility.
Bruce’s lyrics encourage Javed to find his own writing voice, talk to the girl he’s always fancied, and challenge his Dad’s strict rule over the house. Javed has to navigate his new confidence with keeping his family happy and he manages to juggle it all until the day of his sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, it falls on the same day as Springsteen concert tickets go on sale and the National Front is marching through Luton.
Ultimately, Javed has to discover for himself how to balance all the things that are most important in his life: his writing, his family, his friends and his dreams. Bruce’s music helps show Javed and his Father the light – how words can become a bridge between worlds, and how we all need to keep our dreams and our family with us as we discover our journey in life.
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, developed from Gurinder Chadha and British Journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s shared passion for Bruce Springsteen and based on Manzoor’s celebrated rite of passage memoir Greetings from Bury Park, chronicles his experiences as a British Muslim boy growing up in 1980s Luton and the impact Springsteen’s lyrics had on him.