‘Blinded by the Light’: Gurinder Chadha and Aaron Phagura Talk Springsteen’s Influence

     August 17, 2019

Gurinder Chadha, the director of Bend It Like Beckham and the upcoming animated Netflix film Pashmina, is back with her newest film, Blinded by the Light. Based on Sarfraz Manzoor‘s autobiographical book ‘Greetings from Bury Park: A Memoir‘, the film follows teen protagonist Javed (Viveik Kalra) as he deals with the day to day troubles of being a nerdy teenager in school and a Pakistani immigrant in 1987 Britain. Javed discovers the power of Bruce Springsteen thanks to his new friend Roops (Aaron Phagura) and finds the motivation to make some necessary changes in his life, but how will these changes be received by his family? A clash of modern and traditional values in a young teen’s life against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Britain provides us with one of the most unique films of 2019.


Image via Warner Bros.

Before the film’s release, I sat down with Chadha and Phagura to discuss the power of Bruce Springsteen’s music in their lives. I talked to Aaron about some of the challenges he had learning the dance steps and movements for the musical numbers in the film. Also, Chadha reveals how the Brexit movement inspired her to make the movie and what she hopes the film says to young people all over the world who feel displaced by others or by a movement. Check out what they 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, Kulvinder Ghir, and Meera Ganatra.

Gurinder Chadha and Aaron Phagura:

  • Aaron Phagura reveals how he auditioned for the part of Roops and the toughest challenges he had during the musical numbers and dance sequences.
  • blinded-by-the-light-movie-4

    Image via Warner Bros.

    Gurinder Chadha relates to me what current events inspired her to make the movie and why she shot sequences of the film with the intention of evoking the style of 1980s music videos.

  • Chadha and Phagura also speak about the power of Springsteen’s music and which songs or albums of his they are currently listening to or always go back to when they need inspiration or guidance.

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.



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