Thursday, September 5, 2019

"Blinded by the Light": True Story of British Pakistani Teen Growing Up in Luton

Last weekend, my wife and I saw Gurinder Chaddha's "Blinded by the Light", a film based on the true story of British Pakistani journalist Sarfraz Manzoor growing up Luton in 1980s when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, ruled the United Kingdom. Our evening started with a spicy and aromatic dinner at Banana Leaf, a popular Malaysian Restaurant in Silicon Valley, followed by our visit to AMC Mercado where we watched the movie.

Sarfaraz Manzoor (L) with Bruce Springsteen

Blinded by the Light draws its title from a popular Bruce Springsteen song of the same name. It is based on British Pakistani journalist Sarfaraz Manzoor's 2007 memoir "Greetings from Bury Park". Manzoor's memoir is about the power of Bruce Springsteen's music influencing him as a Pakistani teen growing up in Britain in 1980s.

Springsteen's music "speaks" to Javed, the teenage character's name for real-life Sarfraz Manzoor who is played by Viveik Kalra.  With plant closings and de-industrialization that cost Javed's father his job at a local auto plant and forced his mother work long hours as a seamstress, the teenager experienced what Springsteen's poetry is about. Springsteen's father was often unemployed and his mother was the main breadwinner for the family.  Lyrics of his songs like "Johnny 99" and "The Factory" made Springsteen a working class hero.

The person who introduced Javed to Springsteen's music was his Sikh classmate Roops, the only other Asian in high class which consisted almost entirely of white boys and girls. The shared love of Springsteen's music brought the two boys close. Javed's female classmate Eliza also becomes close to him and the two start to date.

Greetings from Bury Park, the book Blinded by the Light is based on, is the story of young Sarfaraz Manzoor's experience of living in a white working class neighborhood and being subjected to bigotry and racism by neighbors and classmates. But it is also a story of kindness and support extended to him by some of the white teachers and neighbors. In particular, his English schoolteacher encouraged him to pursue his passion for writing. She recommended him to the local newspaper for an internship where he was asked to cover the unfolding story of attempts by some in Luton to shut down the only mosque in town. He even got paid for the mosque story he wrote for the newspaper. Later, his teacher entered one of his essays in a competition in which he won a trip to Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) in New Jersey in the United States.  The trip gave him an opportunity to visit Asbury Park referred to in Bruce Springsteen's debut album "Greetings From Asbury Park".

Gurinder Chaddha who previously brought us "Bend It Like Beckham" has lived up to her reputation as a great filmmaker with "Blinded by the Light". The soundtrack of her latest film is dominated by Springsteen's popular hits. It's a well-made film. The only complaint I have is that Chadhha has not cast any Pakistani actors in this film. I'm sure she could have found several British Pakistani actors to cast from the available talent pool in the British Pakistani community.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

British Pakistani Actor Makes History By Winning Emmy

British Pakistan Singer Zayn Malik

British Pakistan Members of Parliament

British Pakistanis

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Pakistan 3rd Largest Source of Foreign Doctors in America

Pakistanis Make Up Largest Foreign-Born Muslim Group in Silicon Valley

Pakistanis in Silicon Valley

History of South Asians in America

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network


Riaz Haq said...

37 year old practicing #Muslim #British #Pakistani Humza Yousaf wins race to replace Nicola Sturgeon as #Scotland's next leader. Humza was born in #Glasgow. His father was born in Mian Channu #Pakistan and his mother was born in #Kenya | Reuters

LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Scottish nationalists picked Humza Yousaf to be the country's next leader on Monday after a bitterly fought contest that exposed deep divisions in his party over policy and a stalled independence campaign.

The 37-year-old practicing Muslim will succeed Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the governing Scottish National Party (SNP) and, subject to a vote in the Scottish parliament, take over as head of the semi-autonomous government.

Yousaf's victory was confirmed at Edinburgh's Murrayfield rugby ground on Monday afternoon after a six-week campaign where the three candidates spent much of the contest criticising each other's record in a series of personal attacks.

The SNP's unity, which had been one of its strengths, broke down over arguments about how to achieve a second independence referendum and the best way to introduce social reforms such as transgender rights.

Yousaf takes over a party with an overriding objective to end Scotland's three-centuries-long union with England.

But while about four in 10 Scots still support independence, according to a poll this month, the departure of Sturgeon - a charismatic and commanding leader - may slow some of the momentum behind a break up of the United Kingdom.

There is no agreed strategy for how to force a new referendum - one of the reasons Sturgeon resigned.

The often bad-tempered leadership contest has relieved some pressure on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is dealing with divisions in his own party, waves of industrial action and high levels of inflation.

Yousaf won 24,336 of the votes of the SNP's members in the first round, while his main rival Kate Forbes 32, Scotland's finance minister, came second with 20,559 votes. Ash Regan, who quit the government because of her opposition to proposed changes to gender recognition, was third with 5,599 votes.

Riaz Haq said...

Spotify Turns Up the Volume in Pakistan With Events and Music Campaigns

Two years ago, we introduced Spotify to listeners in Pakistan. Since the launch, we’ve worked with the country’s artists to expand their reach and share their music with new fans worldwide—and now we’re taking things to a new level.

March marked the first anniversary of our EQUAL women’s empowerment program in Pakistan, with singer Tina Sani as the Ambassador of the Month. RADAR, which highlights emerging artists from all around the world, also recently made its debut in Pakistan, featuring Taha G up first. He’s at the top of the RADAR Pakistan playlist, and Spotify worked with the singer to create a mini-documentary that spotlights his life and career.

In addition to bringing these programs to the region, we’re finding unique ways—from Masterclasses to cricket campaigns to local playlists—to connect with artists.

Lending artists support with a Masterclass in Lahore
Our music industry experts were ready to share their knowledge during a Spotify for Artists Masterclass event in Lahore, PK. “We hosted at the historical Haveli Barood Khana mansion, and used this opportunity to educate and share information on music streaming trends and new product features with the burgeoning music industry in the region,” shared Khan FM, Artist and Label Partnerships Manager for Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Renowned Coke Studio music producer, curator and artist Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan shared his perspective on the Pakistani music industry with an audience that included more than 150 artists and their teams.

Spotify gets in the cricket spirit
“Cricket is huge in Pakistan, and Spotify highlighted the nation’s love for the game by launching a cricket marketing campaign and digging into the data* of the popular Cricket Fever playlist,” shared Talha Hashim, Marketing Manager for Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The curated collection has seen a staggering 611% increase in streams since the beginning of Pakistan Super League 08 (PSL) this year. Among other trends, we noticed:

Karachi is the top city streaming the playlist.
Tuesdays and evenings are when the playlist sees the most streams.
Top songs include “Groove Mera – Pakistan Super League” by Aima Baig, Naseebo Lal, and Young Stunners and “Agay Dekh (Pakistan Super League)” by Atif Aslam and Aima Baig.

Celebrating local artists with Pakka Hit Hai
The Pakka Hit Hai playlist is the go-to Spotify destination for Pakistan’s top hits. “The playlist first launched in 2022 and has seen incredible growth and popularity since its inception. To celebrate, Spotify partnered with COLABS for a concert series called Pakka Hit Hai Live,” said Rutaba Yaqub, Senior Editor for Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The first show featured Fresh Finds success Abdul Hannan and Taha G, two of the best-performing artists on the playlist. Bringing the playlist to more fans through live events is one way we’re expanding its reach.