Shooting has begun, cast has been set and eOne has taken UK and Australia rights on Gurinder Chadha’s comedy/drama Blinded By The Light, a hybrid musical rooted in the British tradition of quirky comedies. This is the project that Deadline scooped Chadha was prepping with Cornerstone Films boarding international sales in Berlin. It’s based on the memoir Greetings From Bury Park by journalist/broadcaster Sarfraz Manzoor which chronicles his experiences as a British Muslim boy growing up in 1980s Luton and the impact Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics had upon him. And, evidently, The Boss is OK with that.
Chadha and Manzoor developed the film out of their shared passion for Springsteen. They both met him at the London premiere of the Springsteen doc The Promise in 2010 and discovered he had not only read, but admired the book.
Says Chadha, “I quickly pitched him the film we wanted to make from the book on the red carpet and to our excitement Bruce nodded and said, ‘Sounds good, talk to Jon.’ We then spent several years developing a script we knew had to impress Springsteen and managers Jon Landau and Barbara Carr or there would be no film without his music and blessings.”
Chadha and producing partner Jane Barclay have gathered a mix of new and familiar British comedy talent for the cast including Kulvinder Ghir (Still Open All Hours), Hayley Atwell (the Avengers franchise), Rob Brydon (The Trip movies), Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones’s Diary) and newcomers Viveik Kalra (Next Of Kin) and Nell Williams as romantic leads. Check out the first-look photo above.
Mannzoor says, “Growing up in Eighties Luton as the working class son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants my world felt very small. 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. The fact that I was so affected by Springsteen’s songs shows just how powerfully music can transcend race, religion, nationality and class. Blinded By The Light is also a tribute to my late father whom I often fought in my teenage years not realizing his generation also had dreams they were not able to follow.”
Adds Chadha, “At a time of such political and social instability in the world, this film provides us with a vital reminder of our shared humanity and the transformative power of music on both a personal and global scale.”
The film is an Ingenious Media and Levantine Films presentation of a Bend It Films production and was developed with support from the BFI. Cornerstone Films is handling international sales and will introduce it to buyers in Cannes.
Levantine Films and Peter Touche of Ingenious Media are producing alongside Chadha and Barclay. Hannah Leader, co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges and Tracy Nurse serve as executive producers. Alice Dawson is the co-producer.