Coming-of-age film ‘Blinded by the Light’ will bring audiences together

Art is the most universal thing across all cultures and continents. It does not matter who you are or what you do; you have most definitely had at least one song that has moved you to tears or made you rethink aspects of your life. You may have even had a film that simply made you feel completely seen and less alone in this world, and that is what is at the very core of Gurinder Chadha’s “Blinded by the Light.”

The film, which rocked Sundance earlier this year with a whopping $15-million acquisition by New Line Cinema, follows the true story of struggling working-class Pakistani teenager Javed’s coming-of-age in Thatcher’s England. When his dominant father isn’t breathing down his neck to constantly do better, he’s being harassed at school. However, Javed gets a much-needed boost and rejuvenation for life when his friend introduces him to the music of Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen.

“I doubt Bruce would’ve been sitting there thinking in 1987, ‘Oh, there’s a 16-year-old Pakistani kid who’s listening to my music thousands of miles away,” said the film’s star, newcomer Viveik Kalra. “It’s amazing that music can transcend any sort of situational factors or the way you live life and it can speak to someone living a totally different life.”

“Blinded by the Light” is Kalra’s feature film debut and his second acting gig, period. Kalra reflects positively on all of what he learned on set, not just as a performer, but as a brand-new Bruce fan.

“I became so obsessed [with Springsteen],” Kalra said. “Making the film, I was listening to his music for the first time because I had heard the name, but I hadn’t really heard any of his music, and so I was able to have this same epiphany moment that the character was having. You could say I was blinded by the light.”

In a time where everyone seems more interested in arguing and focusing on their differences, “Blinded by the Light” seeks to bring us all a little bit closer by providing a story that is purely of its own unique volition, yet with such a staggering amount of heart that it becomes impossible not to cast your own line into it somewhere.

“There is universality to this story,” Kalra said. “You might say, ‘Oh, this is a story about a British Pakastani boy, I can’t relate to that,’ but it’s not true. You can. You can say this is totally not my life but I took this and this and this from it. There are so many components to this story about cultural clash, euphoria and romance. It’s such an exciting watch to latch onto.”

“Blinded by the Light” is now playing in theaters everywhere.