Movie Review: Blinded by the Light

Set in the suburban town of Luton (England), this film is based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir about growing up Pakistani in the late 1980s.

Javed (brilliantly played by Viveik Kalra) longs to escape the restraints imposed by his domineering father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) and the bigotry of the town. A creative soul, Javed finds solace in his journals as he focuses on getting good grades. Manchester University—200 miles away—is his best (and only) hope.

Everything changes when a fellow classmate (Aaron Phagura) gives Javed cassettes of Born in the U.S.A. and Darkness on the Edge of Town. Transfixed by the music, Javed experiences an immediate connection with Bruce Springsteen. Typewritten lyrics start to swirl in what can only be described as a literal windstorm.

With the Boss as his guide, Javed starts to make changes in his own life. He drops Economics and signs up for Creative Writing, writes essays and poems about Bruce’s lyrics, stands up to local skinheads, and approaches his high school crush Eliza (Nell Williams).

On the homefront, Malik loses his factory job, and Javed’s mother Noor (Meera Ganatra) works twelve- to fourteen-hour days to keep the family afloat. Father-son relations intensify as Malik becomes more over-bearing, dismissing Javed’s writing dream and forbidding him to attend a Bruce Springsteen concert.

As the economy stalls and more people lose their jobs, white supremacy rears its ugly head. A violent skinhead march interrupts a Pakistani wedding, reminding us of the racial tensions that still exist in 2019. The indignities suffered by the Pakistani families are appalling. And what is even more heart-wrenching is the powerlessness of the community.

With the help of a dedicated English teacher (Hayley Atwell), Javed becomes more confident in his writing and goes on to achieve local and international acclaim.

A must-see film that will evoke many emotions. Bring tissues.


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Spotlight on The Road to Reality

I’m happy to welcome author and producer Dianne Burnett. Today, Dianne shares her inspiring memoir, The Road to Reality.

Blurb

Get ready to laugh. Get ready to cry. Get ready for a whirlwind of an adventure. Settle in for a powerful, poignant story of inner strength and courage-and get a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the making of Survivor, the world’s most popular reality show.

Spinning their mutual love of exotic adventure into gold, Dianne Burnett and her former husband, TV producer Mark Burnett, co-created Eco-Challenge, an expedition-length racing event televised on Discovery Channel that catapulted them into the arena of reality TV and set the stage for Survivor-a modern-day Robinson Crusoe with a million-dollar prize. But Dianne and Mark’s fairytale marriage did not survive their Hollywood success . . . she found herself left behind, her contributions unrecognized. She lost her partner in life and began to lose her identity. In that experience, she found an opportunity to grow.

A fascinating, fast-paced, heart-warming “page-turner,” The Road to Reality takes readers on a roller-coaster ride-complete with a zesty romance, as well as the ups and downs of going for your dreams-while it imparts the lessons learned as Dianne discovers what really matters in life is something beyond fortune and fame.

Excerpt

What I learned writing The Road to Reality

I couldn’t be quiet anymore. That would have been the polite thing to do; zipping it was the societally-preferred course of action. Just smile and take it. For years I did just that.

We do, after all, have two wonderful sons. I didn’t want them to feel torn in what was happening between me and my husband, Mark Burnett. I smiled at dinner parties, showing up with guy friends, explaining my husband was “on location” with Survivor or attending another awards dinner in New York. I explained to the boys that Daddy had a new clubhouse where they could play and where he could work.

The impact of an absent husband no longer living at home, however, sent my world into new orbit. I went from “Does not compute” to the realization I had to find my own path again. The one I’d been on before I met Mark—who, like me, came from a modest background, but who took me gallivanting around the world–the handsome Brit with whom I had a synergy and shared a belief that we were unstoppable. And we were.

We had no background in doing what we were doing, no fancy degrees, no connections. We had nothing but sheer will, and the willingness to research, put together proposals and run through our pitches again and again. But we did it—first with Eco-Challenge, the world’s premiere endurance-adventure race. And then with the idea for a TV show, that was a modern-day Robin Crusoe story. I gave the name to the program that would catapult reality TV into new directions. “Survivor.” And my handsome hubby finessed the concept, developed it, and pitched it.

Nobody bit. Ever single network gave it a red light. But Mark kept honing his pitches and I kept coaching him and encouraging him—“Honey, I know it will fly!”

And it did.

But winning at the lottery machine of life destroyed our marriage. Nobody preps you for success, for the way your credit cards suddenly don’t have limits, and you cause a sensation walking into a room. We went from “aspiring” to “golden” in six months time. And after another year, the union that had defined me for over a decade was seriously unraveling.

The truth is I didn’t know my marriage was effectively over until radio host Howard Stern announced it to the 18-34 male listening demographic. As calls came flooding in from friends asking if Mark and I were divorcing I took it calmly, still believing we’d get back together, that our trial separation wasn’t permanent. But then, as another year, then another went by, with Mark and I both dating other people, I understood that I had to get back on my own road. I didn’t want to be defined by my relationships any more. I wanted to have my own life again.

It wasn’t easy. At first, I felt like Chevy Chase in Vacation, caught on the roundabout, trying to forge my own way, trying to find my road again. I could see where I wanted to be but I wasn’t yet there. Writing this book proved to be the ideal exit.

I began writing it when I realized that I couldn’t get to where I was going until I understood where I’d been. So I went back and traveled my past, back to Commack, Long Island and the talent shows we put on at the swimming pools, back when I dreamed of entering showbiz. I relived my life discovering a tale of making one own way, with a love story at the heart, and a lot of adventure in between.

I understood finally that it wasn’t the destination that mattered, it’s the journey. And as I wrote the last words of The Road to Reality on a balmy, palm-breezy evening in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, I turned off the computer, walked into the night and felt like at last I’d found my road again.

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Author Bio and Links

Dianne Burnett is an author, producer, and actor of stage and screen. She is also a philanthropist and entrepreneur. Dianne and her ex-husband, Mark Burnett, joined their creative forces to invent Eco-Challenge, the impetus for Survivor, which kickstarted America’s reality-television show craze and went on to become the longest-running and most lucrative reality TV series of all time.

Following the success of Survivor, Dianne produced and acted in the stage play Beyond Therapy at the Santa Monica Playhouse, served as Executive Producer of the indie film Jam (which won Best Narrative Feature at the Santa Fe Film Festival), and acted in Everybody Loves Raymond. In memory of her mother, Joan, who lost her battle with esophageal cancer in 2010, Dianne formed Joan Valentine—A Foundation for Natural Cures, a nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for those seeking alternatives to traditional medicine.

She also recently launched a multimedia platform and social network: called theotherside.com, it explores alternative views on everything from relationships to health. Formerly of New York, Dianne now lives in Malibu, California, with her family.

Website | Facebook

All the elements are there—romance, adventure, betrayal, divorce—set against the backdrop of the world’s most exotic locales. The storyline alternates between the author’s childhood and adolescence on Long Island, New York and her globe-trotting adventures with television powerhouse Mark Burnett. An excellent storyteller, Dianne Burnett has provided an honest, often heart-wrenching, account of a fairytale marriage that didn’t survive the success and acclaim of the world’s most popular reality show. Intertwined with the narrative are the lessons and wisdom acquired on this extraordinary journey.

Definitely a survivor’s tale!

Giveaway

Dianne Burnett will award a $50 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a lucky winner via Rafflecopter. Find out more here.

Follow Dianne on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


On the Miracle of the Present

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I highly recommend A Year of Miracles by spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson. I have followed the 365 reflections and devotions over several years. Here’s one of my favorites:

It’s nothing more than a mental habit to idealize another time, anther condition, another reality. It is simply a way to avoid the reality of our lives right now. And in avoiding the reality of our present circumstances, we avoid the miracles they offer. Everyone does it because that’s the way the ego mind works. But we can stare down this self-defeating habit and cultivate a truer perspective: that wherever we are is the perfect place, and whatever time it is now is the perfect time. That doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t improve things, particularly ourselves. But indulging the thought that if only we were somewhere else things would be better is a surefire way to experience pain.


15 Things Mindful People Do Differently

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

My well-honed left brain likes clear-cut instructions like those in this infographic:



Honoring Toni Morrison

The first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize in 1993, Toni Morrison lived a life filled with achievements and presidential honors. Her novels, among them The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, contain rich prose and unforgettable characters.

Ms. Morrison also taught at Princeton University and held workshops for aspiring writers. Her advice to her students is even more relevant in today’s world.

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

Last night, Toni Morrison died at the age of 88.

Here are more of my favorite quotations from Toni Morrison:

You wanna fly, you got to give up the thing that weighs you down.

Make a difference about something other than yourselves.

There is really nothing more to say—except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.

The function of freedom is to free someone else.

Anger…it’s a paralyzing emotion…you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling. I don’t think it’s any of that—it’s helpless…it’s absence of control—I have no use for it whatsoever.

You are your best thing.

At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.

If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.

Make up a story…For our sake and yours, forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light.


3 No-Brainer Rules for Your Brains

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In her book, Writing with Quiet Hands, Paula Munier offers the following tips on firing up our brains:

KEEP IT REAL

The subconscious mind cannot distinguish between reality and visualization. So when you visualize yourself sitting down to write every afternoon at 3 P.M. or pounding out ten pages every night or plotting a thriller with more twists and turns than Hitchcock, your subconscious believes you–so make your visualizations as true to life as possible.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Your brain can focus best on only one habit at a time. So if you are focused on summoning the muse–that is, acquiring the creativity habit–don’t try to lose weight or quit smoking or take up running at the same time. Give yourself two weeks to six months to establish your connection with the muse before devoting attention to other habits.

KEEP IT POSITIVE

The subconscious mind cannot process negation, so be sure that when you sweet-talk your muse, you use positive statements: “I am an imaginative writer,” (rather than “I am not a boring writer”).


Bumblebee Wisdom

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I found this delightful quotation from Mary Kay Ash while cruising on Pinterest.