For many of us, music is a very important part of our lives. It inspires us, motivates us, calms us down and accompanies us as we move through the world. Almost everyone can remember that moment when they first heard an artist, a song or an album that changed their life. The lyrics and/or the music established a connection with you that made it feel like the artist was speaking directly to you and your situation. Javed (Viveik Kalra), the teenage protagonist in the new film Blinded by the Light, discovers the power of Bruce Springsteen‘s music and it inspires him during a difficult time in his life. The film is directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham) and is based on the autobiographical book ‘Greetings from Bury Park: A Memoir‘ from Sarfraz Manzoor.
Before the film’s release, I sat down with Manzoor, who also co-wrote the screenplay, to discuss what the journey has been like to see his life story become a major motion picture. We also go more in-depth about his relationship with his father, and how important it was for him to get that right in the book as well as in the film. We also discuss the ongoing power of Springsteen’s music in his life, and what song or lyrics he falls back on when he needs inspiration. Check out what he had to say in the video above, and or read the highlights of our chat below. Blinded by the Light also stars Hayley Atwell, Dean-Charles Chapman, Nell Williams, Rob Brydon, Aaron Phagura, Kulvinder Ghir, and Meera Ganatra.
- What has this journey been like for Sarfraz to go from writing the book about his experiences with Bruce Springsteen, to seeing it up on the big screen and getting Springsteen’s blessing about it?
How authentic was the relationship between Javed and his father in the film compared to the actual relationship that Sarfraz had with his own father?
- Sarfraz reveals if there is a Springsteen song that inspired him to write the film.
Here is the official synopsis for Blinded by the Light:
1987, Margaret Thatcher’s England. Javed, a 16-year-old British Pakistani boy, lives in the town of Luton. His father’s recent job termination and the neighborhood skinheads are a daily reminder of the difficult times he’s living in. What young Javed really wants is to be a writer—something his father doesn’t approve of or understand—and when a new friend loans him a few Bruce Springsteen cassettes, Javed is changed forever. The Boss’s working-class anthems and affirming lyrics seem to speak directly to Javed, emboldening him to find his own voice as a writer, stand up to the racism around him, and challenge his father’s rigid ideals.
Based on the memoir Greetings from Bury Park by journalist/writer Sarfraz Manzoor, Blinded by the Light is a comedic, joyous musical companion piece to writer/director Gurinder Chadha’s 2002 hit film, Bend It Like Beckham. Heartwarming and inspiring, Javed’s story reminds us of the transformative, universal power of music to transcend race, class, and nationality and bind us all on a human level.