The new movie Blinded by the Light is the true story of a British-Pakistani kid growing up in England during the ’80s, who realizes that Bruce Springsteen’s music speaks to his own life surprisingly well. But while the movie is centered around him, Bruce Springsteen is not in Blinded by the Light. Well, at least Spingsteen himself isn’t acting in the movie; there are a ton of posters of him.
The basic plot is this: Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a teenager who wants to leave his town and his strict family behind and go off to university somewhere he’ll fit in better. It’s also 1987 and Javed is confronted with racism everyday, including through marches by the National Front. When a fellow south Asian student at his school, Roops (Aaron Phagura), suggests he listen to Springsteen because "Bruce is the direct line to all that is true in this sh*tty world," Javed becomes obsessed with the musician and changes his whole outlook. (He changes the way he dresses and gets confident enough to talk to his crush, too — also important things.)
Without giving too much away, there is a point in the movie where it seems like Springsteen could appear in a big way — perhaps by using archival footage — but the film goes in another direction. But, while Springsteen himself is not in the movie, his music is heard throughout and he can be spotted on posters, cassettes tapes, and on a TV show Javed watches.
There’s also the fact that this is a true story. The movie is based on the book Greetings from Bury Park by Sarfraz Manzoor, who also co-wrote the film’s script. Because of this, an update on Manzoor appears at the end of the movie that tells us that he’s met Springsteen a number of times and has attended over 150 of his concerts. A photo of the singer with Blinded by the Light director Gurinder Chadha also comes up onscreen.
Springsteen’s connection to the movie sounds like it was pretty low-key. Chadha and Manzoor talked to him about making Greetings from Bury Park into a movie when they attended the premiere of a documentary about Springsteen called The Promise: The Making Of Darkness On The Edge Of Town.
"I just was like, OK, be cool, be cool, and I just blurted out, ‘Bruce, I’m Gurinder Chadha, I made Bend It Like Beckham and we want to make a film of this. Will you support us? We need your music,’" Chadha told Yahoo! recently. It turned out Springsteen had already read the book. "He looked at us and said, ‘Sounds good.’"
Chadha then showed Springsteen the movie when it was complete, because, naturally, she wanted his approval. She explained to Yahoo!, "He watched the movie and at the end, he came over to me and he gave me a big kiss and a hug, wrapped his arms around me and he said, ‘Thank you for looking after me so beautifully.’" Since then, the movie has also been promoted on Springsteen’s Instagram account.
So, while you won’t see a Springsteen cameo in Blinded by the Light when it hits theaters Aug. 16, you can go in knowing that The Boss heartily approves.
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