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Tuesday, August 20, 2019


(Viveik Kalra)

Director Gurinder Chadha, best known for her charming social comedy, Bend It Like Beckham, has produced another winning British-Asian film with a superstar for inspiration – but this time it’s “The Boss”. (8/10) Reviewed by Patrick Compton

Imagine being a working-class Muslim teenager in a traditional family in down-at-heel Luton during the often brutal Thatcher years (the 1980s), harassed by the National Front on the streets, the economic depression in the workplace and a general lack of hope that you’ll ever be able to realise your dreams.

Adapted from Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir, Greetings from Bury Park, this movie is about a bullied, insecure second generation youngster who becomes inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen. A budding writer, 16-year-old Javed (an excellent performance from Viveik Kalra) lacks confidence and feels that his repressive father (Kulvinder Ghir) will never give him the freedom he so desperately needs to “find himself”.

Then, an encouraging English teacher and the music of Springsteen combine to show Javed that he need not despair, that he can widen his horizons and become the person he wants to be, a writer.

The result is a feel-good drama that verges on the corny at times, particularly in some of the early musical sequences, but wins our hearts in the end as Javed eventually finds light at the end of the Thatcherite tunnel – even if he is occasionally blinded by it.

Chadha has created a film that accurately mirrors the complexities of British society, where many of the people are neither wholly Asian, nor wholly British. As Chadha herself says, “I’m British but ...”

The period detail is well documented, down to the mullets and the music of the Pet Shop Boys, while the tensions in Javed’s household are only too believable.

Set to the thrilling music of Springsteen, this is a film that should certainly attract multicultural audiences in Britain and the United States – and hopefully in South Africa as well.

Blinded by the Light is currently showing in Durban. – Patrick Compton