Gurinder Chadha couldn’t be in a happier place. And I do mean that literally and metaphorically. Taking a well-earned holiday with her family at a beach resort far away from the maddening crowd, Gurinder celebrates the success of her new film Blinded By The Light.
“It’s a tribute to so many things including the music of Bruce Springsteen who was such an important part of my growing-up years. Today at 70 he is still performing, singing, still a force to reckon with,” says Gurinder, recalling how she was introduced to the music of Springsteen at a young age by a friend in much the same way as shown in the film.
“I was handed Bruce’ s album Born To Run by a friend. What fascinated me on the cover was the image of white man with a man of colour. Back during those days this kind of cultural solidarity was rare. I was immediately charmed by Bruce’s music. He sang about working class problems, about the dreams and aspirations of fringe people.He sang about people like me and, today he is as relevant to the generation represented in Blinded By The Light as he was to my generation,” says Gurinder, proud to have Bruce Springsteen as her friend today.
“I love the praise that’s coming the film’s way. But you know what was the ultimate compliment for me? Bruce Springsteen loved it! The film was inspired his music. And his approval meant the world to me.He came to the film’s New Jersey premiere with his lovely wife Patti. It was a big moment for all of us in the film, including Viveik who plays the Pakistani-British protagonist Javed, and Aaron Phagura who plays Javed’s Sikh friend Roops.”
In fact Aaron was supposed to play Javed.
“Yes, we did have have someone else in mind. But then I met Viveik . He was so sorted and wise beyond his years. He has contributed tremendously to the film. He has done some work before. But he is not the least enamoured by the trappings of stardom,” says Gurinder adding that Viveik plays a culturally specific character in Blinded By The Light.
“I believe in Danny Boyle’s Yesterday the Indian actor Himesh Patel plays a colour-blind character. His cultural background is not mentioned at all. In my film Viviek is a culturally specific Pakistani Asian British chap struggling with problems of the Asian community in the UK, problems that I faced when I came to England,” says Gurinder.
She was not aware of Danny Boyle’s tribute to the Beatles while shooting Blinded By The Light. “When I was told Danny was doing a Beatles tribute I was completely surprised. But that turned out to be different, or so I presume. I haven’t seen Danny Boyle’s film.”
Gurinder is intensely gratified by the response to Blinded By The Light. “I’d agree with you when you say it’s my best-received work since Bend It Like Beckham. Actually , I had to wait before doing Blinded By The Light. I couldn’t do another film on a young Asian-Britisher’s struggle to do his/her own thing so soon after Bend It Like Beckham. But then Brexit happened to Britain. I was very upset and angry with what was happening with migrants and so-called outsiders. I had to tell this story of a young man who is of Pakistani origin and yet so deeply connected to the music of Bruce Springsteen.”
Blinded By The Light is a family film in more ways than one.
Laughs Gurinder, “Both my 9-year old twins my son and daughter are seen in the film. So am I in a wig, hence unrecognizable.”
The good news for Gurinder Chadha’s fans in India is Blinded By The Light is being released on Netflix in the first week of September.
“No one knows this. Now you do. Netflix it is. It is being premiered on Netflix on September 6. I was impressed by the massive global viewership Netflix offered to my film. At one go, Blinded By The Light would be watched by more people on Netflix than it would be in its entire lifetime in movie theatres.”
Gurinder did consider a theatrical release in India for Blinded By The light. But was put off by her experience the last time. “My last film The Last Viceroy was only released by Phantom Films in its dubbed Hindi version. The original English-language version was not even released.”