Blinded By The Light, out in theaters August 16, is the latest offering from acclaimed director Gurinder Chadha. She has previously written and produced beloved classics such as Bend It Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice, which joyfully explore the clashing of South Asian and Western cultures. She’s taken it a step further in her most recent filming, telling the story of a Pakistani teenager named Javed living in England who falls in love with Bruce Springsteen’s music. Chadha and actor Aaron Phagura, who plays Javed’s friend and Springsteen advisor, explained their own connection to The Boss in an interview with Screen Rant.
Congratulations on Blinded By The Light; it was an amazing film. I watched it last night; I laughed, I cried, etc.
Gurinder Chadha: Did you rant?
I did rant, about how great it was. My first question is for Aaron: your character was sort of the Springsteen know-it-all for Javed. How familiar were you with the Boss’ music when you got the role?
Aaron Phagura: See, Aaron is the Springsteen not-know it all, until I booked the role. I read [Sarfraz’s book, Greetings from Bury Park]. I read the script, and I understood that I’m taking on a big commitment here. I can’t wing this; I have to understand what it is about this guy’s music and his lyrics that speaks to these people on this level.
So, I just watched a lot of his documentaries and listened to a lot of his music, and I appreciated it to a higher degree. I can honestly say that it speaks to people of all cultures and of all ages. It’s timeless, you know?
I agree with that. Gurinder, you’ve said that Bend It Like Beckham is kind of a spiritual predecessor to Blinded By The Light. I love that both films touch on how icons or celebrities can inspire us to be our best selves. So, who are your real-life Beckhams and Springsteens?
Gurinder Chadha: Oh, my goodness. Well, Springsteen! He’s a real-life icon, and I think so much of what Springsteen says is so relevant to today. That’s what we put in then movie: his vision of the world, how he thinks society should function, is a very important part of what being an American means.
I think the songs are generally about ordinary folk and people who are struggling to get by, maybe people who’ve been laid off or are keeping two jobs to keep their families together and people who are just wanting to have the best for their family. That’s a universal thing, and he writes about people like that and he sings about people like that. Within that, the pleasures – little pleasures of finding love and finding loyalty with friends and looking at the sunshine and enjoying the landscapes.
I think that, for me, I couldn’t have had a better hero than Bruce Springsteen because he’s like your friend. He’s been there for me since I was 16 and he’s still there for me today. And when we made this movie, I had no idea that he was going to have a number on album in 12 countries around the world. He’s still hot, even today.
That’s amazing. How about you, Aaron? As a Springsteen fledgling, who was one of your role models growing up?
Aaron Phagura: I don’t have a famous role model, like a musician or an actor. Mine was like family members. My grandma and my mum; the strong women who kind of brought me up to be who I am today.
- Blinded by the Light (2019) release date: Aug 16, 2019