Entertainment One has taken U.K. and Australian rights on Gurinder Chadha’s new film, “Blinded by the Light,” a comedy drama inspired by rock legend Bruce Springsteen. Cornerstone Films has released a first-look image from the film (pictured), which began production last week, and will introduce it to international buyers at the Cannes Film Festival next month.
The film, described as a “hybrid musical” that weaves Springsteen’s music and lyrics into its narrative, stars newcomers Viveik Kalra and Nell Williams as its romantic leads, alongside Hayley Atwell and Rob Brydon in supporting roles. The movie grew out of a shared passion for Springsteen by Chadha, the director of “Bend It Like Beckham,” and British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor.
“Blinded by the Light” is based on Manzoor’s 2008 memoir, “Greetings From Bury Park,” which chronicles his experience as a British Muslim boy growing up in 1980s Luton, outside London, and the impact Springsteen’s lyrics had upon him. Manzoor said Springsteen’s songs show “how powerfully music can transcend race, religion, nationality and class.”
“Growing up in ’80s Luton as the working-class son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants, my world felt very small,” he said. “In the music of Bruce Springsteen I found both hope and wisdom on how I could transcend my circumstances and make my dreams to be a writer come true.”
Manzoor and Chadha met the singer at the London premiere of a documentary on the making of his 2010 album “The Promise” and discovered he had read and admired the book. “I quickly pitched him the film we wanted to make on the red carpet, and to our excitement Bruce nodded and said, ‘Sounds good – talk to Jon’ [Landau, Springsteen’s manager],” Chadha said.
The director then spent several years developing a script with Manzoor and her regular writing partner and husband, Paul Mayeda Berges. “We knew we had to impress Springsteen and managers Jon Landau and Barbara Carr, or there would be no film without his music and blessings,” adds Chadha.
“Blinded by the Light” is produced by Chadha and Jane Barclay for Bend It Films, alongside Levantine Films and Peter Touche of Ingenious Media. It was developed with support from the British Film Institute and is expected to be completed in early 2019.
Chadha has twice received BAFTA nominations for best British film for her 1993 breakthrough movie “Bhaji on the Beach” and 2002 hit “Bend It Like Beckham,” which launched the careers of Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra. Her most recent film was “Viceroy’s House,” starring Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson, which world-premiered at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.
(Pictured: Aaron Phagura, Nell Williams, Viveik Kalra)