Die aangrypende fillm, BLINDED BY THE LIGHT wat baie van die musiek van Bruce Springsteen bevat, beloof om deur middel van ’n emosionele plesierreis, vir kykers te illustreer hoe musiek lewens kan verander – veral in die fase waar tieners volwassenes word.
Die rolprent word versprei deur Filmfinity (Edms) Bpk. en open hierdie Vrydag, 16 Augustus 2019 by plaaslike bioskope.
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT is ’n fliek oor grootword deur regisseur Gurinder Chadha, wat in 2002 verantwoordelik was vir die lokettreffer Bend It Like Beckham. Die rolprent, wat beide ’n sjarmante huldeblyk aan tienerdrome en Bruce Springsteen is, is ook ’n opwindende terugkeer na die kollig vir dié geliefde regisseur. Sy beskryf die kern van die fliek so: “Dit is ook ’n jonman se drome en hoe iemand, uit ’n totale ander agtergrond en duisende kilometers weg, hom inspireer om dit te volg.”
Dit vertel die storie van Javed (Viveik Kalra), ’n Pakistanse British tiener wat in ’n mindergegoede buurt in Londen woon in 1987, en presies dit ervaar. Dan ontdek hy Bruce Springsteen se musiek, wat hom wakker maak en sy obsessie en indentiteit word. Maar die musiek doen ook meer as dit.
Javed se wêreld word op sy kop gedraai nadat ’n toevallige ontmoeting met ’n rebelse klasmaat, Roops (Aaron Phagura), wat sy nuwe vriend aan die polsende musiek van Bruce Springsteen voorstel; die kunstenaar wat op daardie tydstip nie noodwendig meer as ‘cool’ geag word deur Javed se tydsgenote nie, maar die lirieke inspireer hom en neem beheer van sy toekoms.
Javed se huislike omstandighede is dieselfde as wat ons al honderde kere gesien het: Ouers wat verwag dat hulle kinders die kultuur waarmee hulle grootgeword het moet ignoreer vir die waardes van die land waarvandaan hulle kom. Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) die streng pa, is vasgevang in ’n ondankbare werk. Hy het sy hele lewe daaraan spandeer om ’n beter toekoms vir sy kinders te skep. Hy is ’n trotse en tradisionele patriarg en weier dat sy seun ’n huurmotorbestuurder word, maar is ook heeltemal onbewus van Javed se brandende begeerte om sy eie man te wees. Ghir se vertolking van die rol is hartlik en skreeusnaaks.
Net soos met Javed, verleen Kalra se spontaniteit en onverwagse lae van emosionele kwesbaarheid baie diepte aan die fliek en lyk dit regtig of hy die tyd van sy lewe in hierdie rol het.
Geïnspireer deur die lewe van die Britse joernalis, Sarfraz Manzoor, wat ook mede-draaiboekskrywer is, fokus die fliek op ’n tiener wat sukkel om balans te vind tussen sy lewe binne en buite sy ouerhuis en hoe sy lewensverwagtinge hemelsbreed verskil van sy Pakistanse pa s’n.
Javed se vriende en familie is in die res van die rolverdeling te sien. Sy ma Noor (Meera Ganatra) is die geduld self, terwyl sy ousus Shazia (Nikita Mehta) vir hom die nodige perspektief gee oor hoe om sy eie waarheid te ontdek.
Die ondersteunende rolle is gevul deur talent soos Hayley Atwell as die Engelse onderwyser wat help om die platform te skep vir Javed se inspirasie om te groei; Nell Williams as Eliza, die meisie wat sy oog vang; en sy sogenaamde nuwe beste vriend Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman).
Lys van teaters:
|SterKinekor||Mall of Africa|
|SterKinekor||Rosebank The Zone|
|SterKinekor||V & A Nouveau|
|Nu Metro||NM Bedford|
|Nu Metro||NM Canal Walk|
|Nu Metro||NM Clearwater|
|Nu Metro||NM Galleria|
|Nu Metro||NM Hyde Park|
|Nu Metro||NM Menlyn Park|
|Nu Metro||NM Park View|
|Nu Metro||NM Pavilion|
|Nu Metro||NM The Glen|
|Nu Metro||NM V&A Waterfront|
|Independents||Killarney Cine Centre|
|Independents||Labia Orange St.|
|Independents||Midlands Cine Centre|
|Independents||Suncoast Cine Centre|
Vir meer inligting oor BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, insluitend die amptelike lokprent, hou ons Facebook-blad dop of volg ons op Twitter by @NutsAboutMovies en gebruik die hutsmerk #BBTLMovie_SA om oor die fliek te gesels.
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT – PRODUCTION NOTES
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, developed from Gurinder Chadha and British Journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s shared passion for Bruce Springsteen and based on Manzoor’s celebrated rite of passage memoir Greetings from Bury Park, chronicles his experiences as a British Muslim boy growing up in 1980s Luton and the impact Springsteen’s lyrics had on him.
A joyous, coming-of-age story, set in 1987, about a teenager who learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.
Set in 1987, during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, BLINDED BY THE LIGHT is a joyous, coming-of-age story about a teenager who learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT is a joyous, coming-of-age story about a teenager who learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.
JAVED is a 16-year-old British Pakistani boy growing up in the boring, industrial city of Luton. It’s 1987, unemployment and the National Front are on the rise and Javed feels trapped, all he dreams of is escaping. He wants what all teenagers want – a girlfriend, the freedom to go to parties – but most of all he wants to be a writer.
Unfortunately, his family have other ideas of how Pakistani boys should behave. They expect Javed to work hard to help the family and give his wages to his Dad, who runs the household. Javed knows his only way to get out of town is to do well at school so he has the chance to leave for university.
On his first day at his new school, Javed runs into a boy in the hall and a cassette tape falls out of the boy’s Walkman – Bruce Springsteen. Javed knows nothing about him but when he first hears Bruce’s music – everything in his life changes. Javed feels like Bruce is speaking directly to him and understanding everything he thinks and feels. Through exhilarating musical sequences, we see how Javed relates Bruce’s words about feeling trapped in New Jersey to his own life in Luton – Bruce’s lyrics are all about yearning to escape just like Javed, suddenly his world is full of hope and possibility.
Bruce’s lyrics encourage Javed to find his own writing voice, talk to the girl he’s always fancied, and challenge his Dad’s strict rule over the house. Javed has to navigate his new confidence with keeping his family happy and he manages to juggle it all until the day of his sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, it falls on the same day as Springsteen concert tickets go on sale and the National Front is marching through Luton.
Ultimately, Javed has to discover for himself how to balance all the things that are most important in his life: his writing, his family, his friends and his dreams. Bruce’s music helps show Javed and his Father the light – how words can become a bridge between worlds, and how we all need to keep our dreams and our family with us as we discover our journey in life.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Heart-warming and truly inspirational comedy drama BLINDED BY THE LIGHT’s journey to the screen began in earnest back in 2010 when visionary writer-director-producer Gurinder Chadha and author-journalist Sarfraz Manzoor attended the BFI premiere of The Promise, a film charting the making of the 1978 Bruce Springsteen album Darkness on the Edge of Town.
Manzoor credited albums like Born to Run and Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ with changing his life during some typically angst-ridden teenage years. He went on to deploy his passion for Springsteen as the backbone of his 2008 memoir, Greetings from Bury Park, which traced his upbringing during the 1980s in Luton, his dreams of becoming a writer and his complex relationship with his father, while also exploring the power of music to transcend race and religion.
Chadha discovered ‘Born to Run’ while at school working at a record store on Saturdays. “I loved the symbolism of the cover with a black and white man appearing to be so close and having fun at a time when Britain was riddled with riots as black and white youth challenged nationalism and the Right wing here.”
Chadha read Manzoor’s book and loved it. She was invited to the premiere of the Promise and invited Sarfraz along. “There on the red carpet an amazing thing happened. We were both poised with our cameras ready to snap pictures of Bruce as he passed us, but Bruce stopped and turned to Sarfraz to say ‘Your book was really beautiful.’ Sarfraz almost collapsed. Bruce said, “Someone sent him a copy and he loved it.”
Chadha adds, “Sarfraz was just blown away. Then I jumped in and said, ‘I’m Gurinder Chadha, the filmmaker, and we really want to make this into a film, but we need your support, Bruce.’ And he said, ‘Sounds good, speak to Jon”. ’ He pointed to Jon Landau, his long-time manager, along with Barbara Carr and Tracy Nurse, and from there we kept in touch.”
The pair had Springsteen’s blessing but faced the complex challenge of turning Manzoor’s memoir into a narrative that would suit the screen. The title on which they settled, BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, is taken from the opening track of the same name, which appears on Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ (1973).
Chadha, an award-winning screenplay writer knew this was going be a tough challenge but had won kudos with an earlier rites of passage movie ‘Bend it like Beckham’. Chadha says, “Sarfraz was a journalist but had not written for the screen, he really wanted to have a go, so I gave him several one on one tutorials in my house and the screenplay process began”
Manzoor tackled the first draft of a screenplay and says that he found inspiration in the film adaptation of An Education. “I could see that maybe our story would be about an outsider changing someone at a decisive moment, at 16 or 17 years old,” he says.
He then worked closely with Chadha and her writing partner Paul Mayeda Berges from Viceroy’s House, Bend It Like Beckham, Bride & Prejudice, Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging. “In the book Sarfraz was doing that thing we do as Asians where, if we’re writing about ourselves, we want to protect ourselves and protect our community against stereotypes and any damaging preconditions that people might have,” explains Chadha.
“In the book I found that he often stayed away from getting to the real nubs of disagreement with his father or with members of his community, which was totally understandable. So, my job was always to push him and to try and get closer to the truth because drama is conflict.”
After Manzoor had finished his draft, Chadha and Mayeda Berges took over the script full time, bringing their technical expertise and deep understanding of how to carry a story to the screen. While working on their drafts, the screenwriters pulled more and more of Springsteen’s lyrics into their narrative.
“Bruce’s lyrics are very much part of our screenplay,” says Chadha, “and we use his songs in a great narrative way. It’s not at all, ‘Oh, here’s a great hit, let’s put this song here, let’s put that song there,’ it’s not a jukebox film. The song’s lyrics drive the narrative somewhat.”
Indeed, the central character Javed, based on Manzoor, finds a deep connection to the lyrics, and the filmmakers were able to draw parallels between what they wanted to say about Luton in the 1980s and what Springsteen was saying about New Jersey during a similar period.
“A lot of our script is about what it was that was inspiring Bruce to write those words, and how that inspiration was also something that Javed could draw on in a time of common experience,” says Chadha.
As she and her writing partner worked and reworked the script, Springsteen’s inspirational music came even further to the fore. While some lyrics are worked into the script and used as spoken words, a few tracks even spring to life as musical numbers, as montages or occasional set-pieces.
The filmmakers wanted the songs to feel organic and therefore did not employ any professional singers or dancers in their cast. Producer Jane Barclay explains, “The idea of the ‘hybrid musical’ evolved over time, though the music was always key, as was the use of Bruce’s lyrics to drive the narrative. The songs were worked into the script very cleverly. Gurinder is skilled at bringing just the right emotion and truth to a scene so was really able to work the lyrics in with just the right tone and narrative beats.
Chadha insists “The film is not a musical but a film with music, rooted in reality where you hear the cast singing along to songs but not as professional singers- more like their characters would.”
Barclay cites the first multi-character musical set-piece, a rendition of Thunder Road by a group of market traders. “Here we have the fantastic Rob Brydon, who is a huge Bruce Springsteen fanatic and has a wonderful voice. But we purposefully didn’t get in dancers for this scene. The other traders just pick up leeks and carrots as they move. It needed to feel real and organic with minimal choreography. We brought in professional movement experts but not actual dancers.”
Chadha brought on Bruce Springsteen’s long-time marketing and PR consultant, Tracy Nurse, to ensure Springsteen and his management team were kept abreast of the creative process including the script and the use of his songs and lyrics. “I think he really appreciated how Gurinder had used the meaning of his lyrics to drive the narrative,” she says.
One prime example comes during Javed’s Springsteen spectacular and dramatic epiphany. It unfolds during a famous October night in Britain during 1987 when the Great Storm, a violent extratropical cyclone, caused chaos nationwide.
“We chose that night and it is there that we find Javed, who has hit rock bottom,” explains Chadha. “His life is going nowhere. He’s been attacked by skinheads. His father’s lost his job and he can’t see a future. But his friend, Roops, has slipped him a cassette into his bag. He puts it in and for the first time he hears the Springsteen track Dancing in the Dark.”
I get up in the evening
And I ain’t got nothing to say I come home in the morning
I go to bed feeling the same way I ain’t nothing but tired
Man I’m just tired and bored with myself Hey there baby, I could use just a little help
“The words suddenly give him meaning to his life. And then he plays another track, Promised Land, and that guides him and cajoles him to get away from all the memories that bring him down. It tells him to forget about what it is that holds him back and instead think about what can take him forward. You have to believe in a ‘promised land’ because life is shit otherwise.”
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted the dogs on Main Street howl
‘Cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands Mister I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man
And I believe in a promised land
It proved a highly dramatic moment during the shoot, and the filmmakers recreated the storm with wind machines, bursts of electricity and lightning.
“We had the full works and we tried to do something different with that scene,” says Chadha, “having projections of storms from archive footage projected against the buildings along with the Bruce’s words that had real resonance for Javed as he walks past them.”
Although the Springsteen songs that feature in the movie were written in the 70s and 80s, they remain timeless. The filmmakers firmly believe that while their narrative unfolds in 1987, the piece feels contemporary. “You’d only know it was 1987 because of some of the references, and the hair,” smiles Chadha.
“In terms of what it is saying about young people trying to find their path when the economy isn’t as strong as it could be, and the way young people have to challenge society’s expectations of them, I think there are great parallels with today.”
In towns like Luton during the mid to late 80s there was mass unemployment; college graduates were not sure whether they would find full time work. “There was this genuine culture where people felt there was no future and no hope if you were from a certain class or certain background.
You really were on the scrapheap,” adds Manzoor. “It is amazing that we have come out of that but at the moment we have short-term contracts and there is no longer the idea of getting a job for life. That kind of security isn’t part of our world anymore and our story speaks to that.”
During that period, far right groups were especially vocal, and the National Front play a role in BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, most notably when one of their rallies coincides with Javed’s sister’s wedding day.
“The popularity of the National Front back then was quite a sad chapter for people like me,” recalls Chadha, “but we wanted to capture that and paint it from our perspective, so we had about 300 extras ,with heads shaved and covered with racist tattoos , playing NF supporters and we reconstructed a march.”
The cast and crew were taken aback when they first saw it. It was very shocking.
“The very first take was a big high shot across the marchers to find the wedding cortège,” continues Chadha, “and everyone just stopped for a moment because it really did take you back, seeing all the National Front guys zeig heiling. After that we all got used to it and pushed to capture the intensity of those marches. Actually, then I was telling them to ‘act’ more racist chanting their slogans.”
The scene had a pronounced impact on some of the actors playing NF members. “It turned out that some of them were getting quite upset about playing National Front members and having to say some of the things they were saying and do some of the things they were doing. Every time they had to do something that was offensive, they would apologize immediately when I said, ‘Cut.’”
At certain points in the movie, the camera had to pass racist graffiti scribbled on the walls. Many of the crew were reluctant to put it up. “So, I ended up painting swastikas on the wall myself because some of the art department felt really uncomfortable about it,” says Chadha.
Actor Kulvinder Ghir, who plays Javed’s father in the movie, gave her a hand. “We were like, ‘I’ll do it!’ Kulvinder and I lived through this; it was the reality, so we were the ones putting the NF slogans up.”
Kulvinder Ghir has a relationship with Chadha that stretches back to 2002’s Bend it Like Beckham, where he played Teetu. In fact, the filmmakers draw a number of parallels between Bend it Like Beckham and BLINDED BY THE LIGHT. Chadha says there are indeed parallels because they are British films set within British Asian families and follow an Asian character who has a dream of wanting to do something but can’t find their way, “But Javed is male and his family are Muslim and while BILB had a lot of my childhood in it, this film is inspired by Sarfraz’z teenage years.”
“For me John Hughes was an inspiration for his classic teenagers coming of age movies. It is about wanting to have a dream and thinking that the dream is not going to be possible because of who you are, and what your background is, and what your parents might be thinking,” Chadha continues. “But then what if you fall in love, what if you get an opportunity, someone throws you a lifeline, then what happens? It’s just a great rite of passage story for Javed.”
Chadha adds “To me it feels like a spiritual companion to Bend It Like Beckham. It shows the careful balances we had to make as teenagers as we fought for what we wanted but without alienating our parents whom we knew just lived for us – their children. It’s a tough subject to find the right balence of emotion, pathos and entertainment. Beckham was 17 years ago and there’s not been a similar film since then.
“For me as a film maker I do feel this is a more mature film and I wouldn’t say it’s a sequel, as such, but I would say that you would watch this film and go, ‘Oh, this is a film from the person who made Bend It Like Beckham, for sure.’ That’s my diaspora sensibility.’’
Finding the right actor to be Javed was the single most critical piece of casting. “It was absolutely key to get a brilliant Javed,” says producer Jane Barclay. “He is in 99.8 percent of the piece and it’s a role that requires incredible stamina and focus.” Gurinder has a knack of discovering new talent as we know with Keira Knightley, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Parminder Nagra.”
“Looking for Javed was about finding someone with a joyfulness, who could embrace the changes in his life but who also had enough depth that we could believe he is a poet and a writer. Finding that in a young actor is not easy.”
And yet the filmmakers finally found that balance in Viveik Kalra, a young actor that Chadha looks set to launch on the road to stardom. He is currently still at drama school in Wales. “But for someone with such little screen experience, he did an amazing job,” says Chadha.
“To have a solid central performance is critical in any film but especially so in a coming of age film. He does carry it, and also, he feels it; he’s been through everything that Javed has been through to some degree. I think he is going to be a very big figure in the British acting landscape one day.”
For Kalra, the experience was transformative. He says that while prior to signing on to the film he had never really listened to Springsteen’s music, now he can’t bring himself to listen to anything else. “I have become enlightened,” he says, “probably not in quite the same way as Javed is but I’ve been really, really touched by the words.”
“After I listened to his music, I couldn’t really listen to pop-chart songs anymore; I would be a few seconds into a song and then I’d suddenly realize that there was a lack of meaning in the music, which is really odd to say as a 20-year-old.”
Understanding Springsteen’s music also gave Kalra a greater appreciation of Javed and his journey. “When Javed is faced with real issues, he doesn’t quite know how to deal with them,” he says. “Then when he finds Bruce’s music and falls in love with it, it is then that he finds a world that is bigger than just himself and his family.”
The music gives Javed the confidence to chase his dreams, to try and become a writer and a journalist at a difficult time for young Pakistanis in Britain. “It gives him the chance to do things that he wouldn’t have done ordinarily,” continues the actor.
Kalra concedes that singing Springsteen’s songs at certain points in the movie was daunting. “Oh yeah, the musical side was very intimidating,” he says. “I am not going to lie. Right from the audition, when you are singing three, four, five songs, in a script, it was scary. But Gurinder was really good at helping me to distance myself from it.”
“She kept going, ‘It is not you; it is not you. It is the character. He wouldn’t be self-conscious when he was singing the song that he loved. He doesn’t care.’ So that was important in detaching myself from it.”
By the time the shoot was in full swing, Kalra had embraced the singing and dancing. “It has given me a new level of confidence because it is not something that I would have ever done,” he says.
“I think singing is the most vulnerable thing a person can do, for me, at least. Eventually, I forgot about it and there were scenes where we were running down the streets of Luton with Nell Williams [who plays his girlfriend Eliza] not caring that people were staring.”
Finding that confidence is another mirror between Kalra and his character. “Without getting that confidence through music, Javed wouldn’t have gone out and kissed a girl; he wouldn’t have gone out and made other mates,” he says.
“When talking about the character with Gurinder at the outset, we realised that he is not uncool. He is just in a really claustrophobic environment in which he can’t really do what he wants to do. He feels under pressure from his father.”
The relationship between father and son lies at the heart of the movie. “It is interesting because Javed’s dad is a man who wears a suit every day, a man who has really integrated into British life yet is probably missing the sense of home.”
Javed’s father, Malik, has brought his family to Britain from Pakistan and is caught between a desire for his family to integrate and flourish in a new society, and yet also able to retain a strong connection to its Pakistani roots. This causes conflict between the dad and his son.
“The story is probably more about the relationship between him and his dad really than anything else,” says Kalra. “There is all sorts of stuff that goes on throughout the movie, but it comes back to that relationship in the end.”
Choosing the actor to play Malik was the second most important casting choice after finding Javed. “Finding Malik was really important because we needed an actor who had a depth that would not appear ridiculous or diminished,” says Barclay. “We needed an actor who could be quite nuanced.”
The filmmakers turned to Kulvinder Ghir, with whom Chadha had worked on Bend it Like Beckham. “Malik is a man of integrity and he just wants something better for his family,” says Ghir. “He is very ambitious in his own way and does put pressure on his children. That generation that came over to Britain had to deal with the indifference, the racism, the difficulty of finding jobs and integrating at work.”
“Malik is just interested in security and protecting his family within the world they’ve come into and he has difficulty letting his children go. He doesn’t want his children to have the same life he has, working in a factory,” continues Ghir.
“He’d had a clerical job in Karachi but here he was working on the factory floor. That generation almost didn’t think about what they wanted; they put it on their children, ‘You can do it for me because I haven’t had the opportunity here.’”
He doesn’t think Javed can make a living as a writer. “That is no help to Malik and he won’t have any support. Javed in this film is the only son, and Malik hopes he’ll help with the family; that adds pressure to their relationship.”
During the course of the film, of course, a greater understanding develops. Eventually, Javed’s writing brings father and son closer together again.
“It’s wonderful when the father does start to understand and recognise the personality of the child
he has brought up in this environment,” says Ghir. “That’s the whole journey for Malik.”
Though the main characters in the film are not the exact same people that populate Manzoor’s memoir, Ghir said he felt a certain responsibility to the author when playing a man that he would recognise clearly.
“Amazingly, in the film I really do look like Sarfraz’s dad,” recalls Ghir. “Sarfraz brought his daughter on set one day and she said, ‘Oh look, it’s grandad!’ It was very important for me to capture what that generation was about. They felt a responsibility for bringing their family here and I felt that from my own father.”
The actor also says that he was delighted to be working with Chadha again after all these years. “We’ve always wanted to come together again with our work and this time Gurinder said, ‘I think I’ve got something for you that you’ll love doing.’ And I did think it was perfect…”
Ghir notes that stories like BLINDED BY THE LIGHT are close to his and Chadha’s hearts, “because they’re also telling our parents’ stories. There’s a line in the film where Malik says to his son, ‘Tell your stories but don’t forget ours.’ That’s a lovely thing.”
“And Gurinder is perfect for telling these stories,” he concludes. “I think BLINDED BY THE LIGHT has that same feel as Bend it Like Beckham but it’s something even more than that because of the musical element that’s in there.”
Along with the connection between father and son, the other pivotal relationship in the movie is that which unfolds between Javed and Eliza, whom he meets at college. It blossoms into a nascent romance.
And as with Viveik Kalra, Chadha believes she has unearthed another gem in teenage actress Nell Williams. “She is another great new talent for us,” says the director. “She was 19 at the time of filming, but boy does she have screen presence. She reminds me of a British Jennifer Lawrence.”
Eliza is interested in politics, and Williams sees a strong connection between her character’s ideals and those exposed by Springsteen. “Basically, she is a very political angsty teenager who we watch grow up throughout the film,” says Williams, “and she opens Javed’s eyes to the world of politics.”
“She is a strong female lead,” says the actress, “someone who guides him and is really a bit more grown up than him. I really liked how strong minded she is.”
Williams says that she saw a lot of herself in the character. “She was interesting to play because I was very similar to that growing up. She is very stubborn, always thinks she is correct and is very, very angry with a lot of things that are out of her control.”
“The fact that she is politically motivated is also very important,” she adds, “because Bruce Springsteen always has a political, working class edge to his music and the film draws a lot on that. There are a lot of political songs by Springsteen that are in the film and which fit very well with Eliza’s thoughts.”
Like Kalra, Williams felt daunted by the film’s musical aspect, though her character does not have to interact with it quite as much as her co-star. “Even so, there is a hell of a lot of [the song] Born To Run. Filming that took so long because we had to do it in so many different locations. We were filming that from the start to the end of filming because that song appears everywhere.”
“The filming on location, in public, was the most nerve-wracking thing for me by far because you were very aware that other people were watching you wondering what the hell we were doing.”
There is a clutch of female characters in the movie that have an influence on Javed’s life. These include his teacher, Miss Clay, played by Hayley Atwell. “She was a complete dream,” says Chadha. “From the moment she comes on screen you can tell why Hayley is so lauded. She plays a very important role as Javed’s teacher.”
“She is the woman who pushes and inspires him, inspires him to push himself. This could be done in a very mawkish, sugary, schmaltzy way, but in Hayley’s hands it’s the opposite. She is quite abrasive actually when she needs to be. But she really does deliver.”
“Hayley played the character as someone based on one of her own teachers, I think. For her, this was a tribute to one of her teachers. And, as she quite rightly said to me on set, teachers are so important. If you get the right teacher at school, you are on your way. A good teacher will stay with you.”
Another teacher who features in the movie is Javed’s headmistress, Mrs Anderson, played by Sally Phillips. “Luton has had a bad press, she feels, and she’s committed to showing that there’s excellence in Luton,” says Phillips. “She is really on Javed’s side and wants to smooth the differences between some of her pupils and their families. She is quite maternal and tries to embrace the new — though she has some difficulties.”
Another notable face in the film is Rob Brydon, who plays the father of Javed’s best friend. He is central to one of the movie’s musical set-pieces in which a host of market traders break into a rendition of the Springsteen classic Thunder Road. Brydon is another huge Springsteen fan and he met Manzoor at that 2010 premiere of The Promise.
“I think it’s great that we can now finally hear these songs on the big screen,” Brydon says. “Springsteen did the music for Philadelphia, but they were new songs. Here the filmmakers have got access to all these huge hits. I absolutely loved the script. It made me cry at the end.”
Brydon traces his love for the Boss back to his purchase of The River album on vinyl when growing up in a south Wales seaside town. “It was the first time I’d seen a lyric insert and I remember showing it to my grandmother, saying that the lyrics were like poetry. You get such a connection with Bruce; you feel like you know him.”
“Knowing Bruce is going to watch this movie is both exhilarating and scary,” he adds. “I’d love it to please him because he’s given me so much pleasure over the years.”
It’s a dream all the filmmakers share though Chadha is keen to point out that audiences don’t have to be Springsteen fans to enjoy the movie. “People will get it whether they’re fans or not,” she says.
“But, by the end I really hope that everyone comes out of the film a big Bruce fan because he deserves it — what an inspiring man! And I hope we’ve done him and his lyrics justice and made a great film.”
“One of the most enthralling and nerve-wracking experiences of my life was going to New York to show Bruce a cut of the finished film in case he had notes. I sat in the row behind him watching him enjoy the movie.
At the end he turned to me and said, ‘Thank you for honouring me so beautifully. Don’t change a thing.’”
VIVEIK KALRA – JAVED
Viveik Kalra is a young actor who trained at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. During his first year he secured the lead role in ITV’s drama NEXT OF KIN opposite Archie Panjabi. He recently finished filming Gurinder Chadha’s BEECHAM HOUSE for ITV which will air later this year.
KULVINDER GHIR – MALIK
Kulvinder Ghir is a British actor whose career has spanned over 30 years including a wide range of credits on stage, screen and radio. This year he completed filming Series 5 of STILL OPEN ALL HOURSfor the BBC reprising the regular role of Cyril. Theatre work this year includes East is East at the Octagon Theatre where he portrayed the role of George.
Kulvinder has also just completed shooting on Beecham House, a new ITV series which is his third collaboration with writer and director Gurinder Chadha. This follows on from his role in the BAFTA nominated film BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM.
Kulvinder is also well-known as one part of the quartet behind the hugely successful BBC comedy GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME. Other notable credits include RITU, SUE &BOB TOO and JADOO.He has also recently voiced the role of Sanjay for the upcoming animation THE QUEENS CORGIalongside Julie Walters and Sheridan Smith.
MEERA GANATRA – NOOR
Meera Ganatra was born in Uganda and grew up in West London. She began her career extensively touring England, Europe and Canada with professional Indian theatre companies like Vyaas Productions, J P Productions and Bharatiya Vidha Bhavan. She appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in a co-developed and co-written piece with Just Born Theatre Company before training at London International School of Acting in a one-year postgraduate drama course. Prior to this, she completed a pharmacy degree at Kings College London.
She has since worked in the theatre with Theatre Lab Company amongst others.
Her TV work includes a six-part drama playing a leading role as Neelam in a PREMature series. Her film credits include: THE QUESTION, THREE DOTS and A DASH. Her commercial work includes an NHS Public Health Campaign and a No Cold Homes Campaign.
Meera took time out to have a family and is mum to two boys and manages both her pharmacy work and acting career simultaneously.
HAYLEY ATWELL – MS CLAY
Hayley Atwell trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After graduation, Hayley’s stage debut came in PROMETHEUS BOUND at Sound in London starring David Oyelowo, followed by WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN (2006) at the Royal Shakespeare Company and two shows at the National Theatre both directed by Nicholas Hytner: first MAN OF MODE (2008) then MAJOR BARBARA (2009), for which she received an Ian Charleson Commendation. Hayley’s West End debut came in the Duke of York’s A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (2009), in a production directed by Lindsay Posner, and for which she landed the first of her two Olivier nominations. In 2011, Hayley starred in Alexi Kaye Campbell’s THE FAITH MACHINE, directed by Jamie Lloyd at the Royal Court. In 2013, Hayley collaborated again with Alexi Kaye Campbell and Jamie Lloyd in a revival of THE PRIDE at Trafalgar Studios. Hayley was nominated for the Best Actress Award at both the 2014 Olivier Awards and WhatsOnStage Awards for her role. Hayley returned to the stage in 2018 appearing at the Hampstead Theatre’s DRY POWDER, before going on star in Josie Rourke’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE at the Donmar Warehouse opposite Jack Lowden. The production was high-concept Shakespeare – the first half was a traditional, 17th-century staging before the second half retells the story in 2018 with the gender power dynamics reversed – within every performance, Hayley and Jack alternated the roles of powerful Deputy and powerless Novice. The Daily Telegraph said that the production was, “beautifully staged and expertly performed”. MEASURE FOR MEASURE’s run was extended due to popular demand. She is currently in rehearsals for Henrik Ibsen’s ROSMERSHOLM, which will be directed by Ian Rickson at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End.
Hayley made her name in acclaimed British television series including; BBC Two’s THE LINE OF BEAUTY (2006), Channel 4’s adaptation of William Boyd’s ANY HUMAN HEART (2010) and Ken Follett’s PILLARS OF THE EARTH (2010). She was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Mini-series for her role in the latter. She played the lead in RESTLESS, an adaptation of William Boyd’s espionage novel for BBC Two. In 2013, Hayley starred in ‘Be Right Back’ – the stand-out episode of Charlie Booker’s BLACK MIRROR.
Hayley dazzled in her portrayal of Margaret Schlegel in BBC One’s, HOWARDS END, based on the classic E.M. Forster novel and adapted by Academy Award winning screenwriter and playwright Kenneth Lonergan (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, GANGS OF NEW YORK). The four-part limited series was directed by Hettie MacDonald. Hayley was most recently seen on our screens in BBC One’s THE LONG SONG, a three-part adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning, best-selling novel (shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, longlisted for the 2010 Orange Prize and recipient of the 2011 Walter Scott Prize). She starred alongside Tamara Lawrance, Jack Lowden and Sir Lenny Henry and the series was directed by Mahalia Belo. Set during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica, the story follows the strong-willed, young slave, July (Tamara Lawrance) on a plantation owned by her odious mistress, Caroline Mortimer (Hayley). When a charming new arrival to the island, Robert Goodwin (Jack Lowden), becomes the new overseer, July and Caroline are both intrigued by his seemingly revolutionary determination to improve the plantation for the slaves and mistress alike. During a time of social unrest and turmoil, this powerful story is told from July’s perspective as she looks back over her life. It’s a story about the injustices that humans inflict upon each other and the unexpected ways in which people’s humanity sometimes overrules their prejudices. Three hundred years of slavery finally came to a chaotic end on the British-ruled Caribbean island of Jamaica in 1838. THE LONG SONG is a story of love, hope, passion, survival and determination.
Hayley’s film credits include Julian Jarrold’s BRIDESHEAD REVISITED (2008) and THE DUCHESS (2008), for which she was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category at the 2008 British Independent Film Awards. In 2011, Hayley was cast opposite Chris Evans in Marvel universe blockbuster CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Her character Peggy Carter was given her own show, AGENT CARTER in 2015, the first ever Marvel spin-off to be fronted by a woman. The first season garnered 8m viewers when it premiered on ABC. Hayley has reprised this role in; CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014), AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and ANT-MAN. Last summer Hayley starred in Disney’s CHRISTOPHER ROBIN opposite Ewan McGregor.
AARON PHAGURA – ROOPS
Aaron Phagura trained at The Identity School of Acting in London.
Since leaving, Aaron’s credits include CLEANING UP (ITV), INFORMER (BBC), DOCTOR WHO (BBC), HIM (ITV), UNFORGOTTEN (ITV), THE CORONER (BBC), DOCTORS (BBC) and the feature film SUBURBAN DRACULA (Film London).
NELL WILLIAMS – ELIZA
Nell has been dubbed one of the UK’s most promising young actors. She has recently wrapped filming the new drama DEEP WATER alongside Anna Friel for ITV. Nell will soon be seen as YOUNG LILLI in THE GOOD LIAR for Warner Bros. alongside Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen.
Recent credits include AGNES AUSTEN in the TNT series WILL and the independent feature LONDON TOWN alongside Tom Hughes and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
DAVID HAYMAN – MR EVANS
David Hayman is well known for his role as Chief Supt. Michael Walker in Lynda La Plante’s long-running crime thriller TRIAL & RETRIBUTION, which had 12 series from 1997 to 2009.
David was born in Bridgeton, Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. He began his acting career at the Citizens Theatre in the city, playing a variety of roles, including Hamlet, Figaro and Al Capone. He gained national prominence playing notorious Barlinnie Prison convict turned sculptor, Jimmy Boyle, in the film A SENSE OF FREEDOM. His extensive list of film credits includes co-starring with Pierce Brosnan in THE TAILOR OF PANAMA, Bruce Willis in THE JACKAL and Kevin Spacey in ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL. He also appeared in THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS, John Boorman’s HOPE AND GLORY, MACBETH opposite Michael Fassbender and Finding Your Feet opposite Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie. Upcoming releases include FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS and THE SOPRANOS.
David’s recent television credits to name but a few include: TABOO opposite Tom Hardy, LONDON SPY, SHETLAND, TOP BOY, THE PARADISE and HENRY IV, PART I. He also stars in the ITV series HATTON GARDEN which is due to air next year.
David has also had huge success in directing film and TV productions. SILENT SCREAM is a return to a study of convicts in Barlinnie Prison, examining the life of convicted murderer Larry Winters. SILENT SCREAM won the BAFTA Michael Powell Award for Best British Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival and the Silver Bear and Special Jury Prize at Berlin. Later followed THE HAWK, starring Helen Mirren as a woman who begins to suspect that her husband is a serial killer. THE NEAR ROOM is a dark and disturbing film about child abuse and corruption set in Glasgow.
On stage, David appeared as Chris in the 2011 production of ANNA CHRISTIE opposite Ruth Wilson at the Donmar Theatre, London. In 2012, he returned to the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow to play the title role in KING LEAR.
David was awarded the City of Glasgow’s gold medal in 1992, for outstanding services to the Performing Arts. In 2001 he founded the humanitarian charity Spirit Aid, which is dedicated to children of the world whose lives have been devastated by war, genocide, poverty, abuse or lack of opportunity at home and abroad. He has also been awarded four Honorary Doctorates.
As a broadcaster/presenter, David has fronted 24 documentaries including the IN SEARCH OF SERIES…’
DEAN CHARLES CHAPMAN – MATT
Dean is best known for his work on the HBO hit series GAME OF THRONES, playing the ill-fated King Tommen Baratheon. Other credits include Rowan Joffe’s BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP with Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong, E4’s critically acclaimed GLUE, series III of AMC’s INTO THE BADLANDS. Dean has just wrapped David Michod’s THE KING with Joel Edgerton and Timothée Chalamet for Netflix and the lead in the independent feature, HERE ARE THE YOUNG MEN. He is currently filming the co-lead in Sam Mendes’ 1917 from producer Steven Spielberg.
TARA DIVINA – YASMEEN
Tara Divina trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and graduated early to make her screen debut in BLINDED BY THE LIGHT.
She will be seen as the role of Rani in LIFE OF PI for the Sheffield Crucible this summer and has recently working for the LMTO in GIRLFRIENDS and played a lead role in NOT SUCH QUIET GIRLS, a wartime play in conjunction with Leeds Playhouse.
Workshops include: JESS IN BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM: THE MUSICAL and ALICE in a new adaptation of Alice in Wonderland at The National Theatre Studios.
ROB BRYDON MBE – MATT’S DAD
Rob Brydon MBE is the award-winning actor, writer and producer, who is arguably best known for THE TRIP (2010), A COCK AND BULL STORY (2005), and MARION AND GEOFF (2000), for which he was awarded Network Newcomer at the Royal Television Society award and Best Comedy Newcomer at The Comedy Awards. He also went onto win Best TV Comedy Actor for his performance in HUMAN REMAINS. Rob has received a further four BAFTA TV Award nominations, most recently for Best Male Performance in a Comedy Programme for THE TRIP TO SPAIN.
Rob studied at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama before joining BBC Wales as a radio and television presenter. He first came to the public’s attention in 2000 with television shows MARION AND GEOFF and HUMAN REMAINS. Since then his extensive credits have included I’M ALAN PARTRIDGE, LITTLE BRITAIN, LIVE AT THE APOLLO, ROB BRYDON’S ANNUALLY RETENTIVE, QI, HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU, ROB BRYDON’S IDENTITY CRISIS, WOULD I LIE TO YOU?,THE TRIP and BAFTA award winning BBC series GAVIN AND STACEY where he played the lead role of Stacey’s Uncle Bryn. In 2009, Rob completed an eighty-seven-date tour of the UK with his stand up show, ROB BRYDON LIVE, including a run in London’s West End. In 2012 Rob returned to the stage with A CHORUS OF DISAPPROVAL, at the Harold Pinter Theatre, directed by Olivier and Tony award-winner Trevor Nunn.
Rob went on to star in the bracingly topical and boisterously funny FUTURE CONDITIONAL at The Old Vic, directed by Matthew Warchus, he also appeared as Martin in HBO’s comedy series THE BRINKalongside Jack Black and Tim Robbins. In 2016 Rob starred in THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WARopposite Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt and returned to the stage in THE PAINKILLER at the Garrick Theatre, alongside Kenneth Branagh.
In 2017 Rob returned to our screens with THE TRIP TO SPAIN, the third brilliant series, which saw Rob and Steve Coogan playing fictionalized versions of themselves as they tour restaurants in various locations. THE TRIP TO SPAIN followed on from THE TRIP, which launched in 2010 to critical acclaim, and THE TRIP TO ITALY, which aired in 2014.
On Christmas day last year, Rob narrated the BBC animation of THE HIGHWAY RAT. He went on to star as the Message Bird in EARLY MAN the newest animation from Aardman.
He recently returned to the big screen in HOLMES AND WATSON, a humorous take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Rob will star alongside Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Rob is at present on tour with his highly reviewed stand up show, I AM STANDING UP.
This year Rob will star in DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER, the feature directorial debut from The Inbetweeners star, Simon Bird.
JEFF MIRZA – MR SHAH
Jeff’s numerous films credits include: the upcoming MUGHAL MOWGLI, BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, HUMMINGBIRD, BIGGA THAN BEN, ARIFA and THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN’S APOCALYPSE.
His television credits include ACKLEY BRIDGE, THIS WAY UP, MAN LIKE MOBEEN, HOUNSLOW DIARIES, FLEABAG, WHITE TEETH, CUCUMBER & PLEBS
A stand-up comedian for 20 years, he is notably one of a handful of comedians to have performed stand-up in Saudi Arabia.
In 2006, Jeff received an award for Services to Entertainment at the British House of Lords. He has also won Best Comedian at the BT Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy Awards and in 2013, he won the Entertainment Award for Muslim News. In 2018, Jeff was awarded a BEFFTA Legends Award.
Of Pakistani origin, Jeff was born into a devout Muslim family in London. Jeff lived through and has first-hand experience of the turmoil in 1980s Britain.
GURINDER CHADHA O.B.E. – DIRECTOR/ WRITER/ PRODUCER
Gurinder Chadha is one of the U.K.’s most proven and respected filmmakers whose award-winning films have earned over $300 million at the international box office. The British Film Institute’s recent filmography study on British Cinema history named Gurinder as the U. K’s most prolific female director working today.
She began her career as a broadcast journalist for BBC News and moved into directing with her first documentary I’M BRITISH BUT…. for Channel 4 and the BFI in 1989 and subsequently made several award-winning documentaries for BFI, BBC and Channel 4.
She directed her first short feature, NICE ARRANGEMENT in 1990.
Her first feature, the landmark comedy-drama BHAJI ON THE BEACH, which centred on the experiences of a group of Asian women from three generations on a day trip to Blackpool, received a BAFTA Nomination for ‘Best British Film’ and the Evening Standard British Film Award for ‘Best Newcomer to British Cinema’.
Gurinder’s next feature, WHAT’S COOKING?, a comedy-drama which tells the story of four different families (Latino, Vietnamese, African -American and Jewish) all preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner, was the Opening Night Film of the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and was the first British script to be invited to the Sundance Institute’s Writer’s Lab. The film was voted joint Audience Award winner in the New York Film Critics’ 2000 season (tied with BILLY ELLIOTT).
Her next film, BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, was the highest grossing British-financed, British-distributed film ever at the UK box office (at time of release) and topped box office charts internationally. The film received a Golden GlobeÒ Nomination for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), a BAFTA Nomination for Best British Film, a European Film Academy Nomination for Best Film, and a Writers Guild of America Nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Her other hit films include BRIDE & PREJUDICE – a film which marries Jane Austen with Indian and Western musicals – which was the first film ever to open at Number One in the UK and India on the same day, ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SNOGGING, based on the international bestseller which was released worldwide by Paramount Pictures in 2008/2009, IT’S A WONDERFUL AFTERLIFE which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival before releasing internationally in 2010 and most recently VICEROY’S HOUSE, an epic drama on Indian Independence and Partition starring Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal and Huma Qureshi. The film world premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2017 to critical acclaim and global box-office success.
In 2015, Gurinder and Paul Mayeda Berges mounted the stage musical version of BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM in London’s West End to 5-Star Reviews & critics’ awards.
Gurinder’s TV company, Bend It TV, recently joined forces with International Sales and Distribution company, Fremantle Media to create diverse scripted and non-scripted TV content. Bend It TV currently has commissions for returning drama series with Sky Atlantic, BBC Drama and ITV.
She has received several Honorary Doctorates from British Universities and was awarded an O.B.E. in the 2006 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to the British Film Industry. She is an active patron of numerous charities including MAF (Medical Aid Films), is a Creative Mentor and Role Model for Creative Access, Directors UK INSPIRE, the BFI and the Sundance Directors’ Lab. and Patron of Women in Film UK.
Gurinder is chair of Bend It Networks – a content creation company she co-founded with Paul Mayeda Berges which develops multicultural stories for international audiences across Film, TV, Stage & Digital.
Gurinder and Paul created BEECHAM HOUSE, an epic, returning drama series set in India in 1795 for ITV and Masterpiece/PBS. The series will premiere in the UK in June 2019.
PAUL MAYEDA BERGES – WRITER/EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Originally from California, Paul Mayeda Berges is a screenwriter and director who has written and produced eight award-winning films with Gurinder Chadha.
Paul studied film and theatre at the University of California, Santa Cruz and began his career making documentaries about the Japanese American community and was the Director of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.
His first feature with Gurinder, WHAT’S COOKING? was the Opening Night Film of the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and was the first British script to be invited to the Sundance Institute’s Writer’s Lab. The film was voted joint audience award winner in the New York Film Critics’ 2000 season (tied with Billy Elliott).
BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM was the highest grossing British-financed, British-distributed film, ever in the UK box-office (at time of release). The film received a Golden GlobeÒ Nomination for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), a BAFTA Nomination for Best British Film, a European Film Academy Nomination for Best Film, and a Writers Guild of America Nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
BRIDE & PREJUDICE – a film which marries Jane Austen with Indian and Western musicals – was the first film ever to open at Number One in the UK and India on the same day.
In 2005, Paul made his directorial debut with THE MISTRESS OF SPICES from a script he co-wrote with Gurinder. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before releasing internationally.
His other films include ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SNOGGING – based on the international bestseller, which was released worldwide by Paramount Pictures in 2008/2009, IT’S A WONDERFUL AFTERLIFE which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival before releasing internationally in 2010 and VICEROY’S HOUSE, – an epic drama on Indian Independence and Partition – which opened at the Berlin Film Festival in 2017 to critical acclaim and global box-office success.
In 2015, Paul and Gurinder mounted the stage musical version of BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM in London’s West End to 5-Star Reviews & critics’ awards.
Paul is also the Creative Head of Bend It Networks – a content creation company he co-founded with Gurinder which develops multicultural stories for international audiences across Film, TV, Stage & Digital.
Paul and Gurinder created BEECHAM HOUSE, an epic, returning drama series set in India in 1795 for ITV and Masterpiece/PBS. The series will premiere in the UK in June 2019.
SARFRAZ MANZOOR – WRITER
Sarfraz Manzoor is a writer, journalist and broadcaster. His critically acclaimed memoir ‘Greetings from Bury Park’ was published by Bloomsbury in 2007.
A prominent print journalist for more than twenty years with work regularly appearing in, among others, The Guardian, The Times, Sunday Times Magazine and The New York Times, during the course of his journalism career, he has interviewed such celebrities as Dolly Parton, Mike Tyson, Woody Allen and Little Richard. He has also written and presented numerous documentaries on BBC Radio and television as well as appearing as a cultural critic on shows such as BBC Two’s Newsnight Review and The Culture Show as well as BBC Radio Four’s Saturday Review.
Sarfraz was born in Pakistan and emigrated to Britain when he was almost three years old in 1974. He grew up in a working-class family in Luton where his father worked on the production line at the Vauxhall car factory and his mother worked at home as a seamstress. He was educated at his local comprehensive school and Luton Sixth Form College before leaving to study economics at Manchester University. His media career began after he graduated with a degree in economics and politics and found himself in a succession of dead-end temporary jobs.
After deciding to cold call, a television producer whose name had appeared last in a list of credits for a documentary about the rock band Oasis, he managed to secure two weeks unpaid work experience. This led to him securing unpaid work in the Granada TV newsroom which in turn led to a traineeship with the news provider ITN. He began at ITN in 1996 where he spent seven years as a producer and reporter for Channel 4 News before being hired as a commissioning editor for Channel 4. He left Channel 4 in 2004 when he was signed by publishing house Bloomsbury to write his memoir Greetings from Bury Park. In 2010, Sarfraz met Bruce Springsteen at a BFI event in London where Springsteen told him he had loved his book. This planted the idea that the book could perhaps form the basis of a film and thus began the journey that led to the film.
Sarfraz is married with two young children and counts among his proudest achievement that his seven-year-old daughter Laila knew the words to ‘Dancing in the Dark’ by the time she was three years old.
JANE BARCLAY – PRODUCER
Jane Barclay is a highly respected award-winning producer who has over 30 years’ experience in the film industry and has worked with some of world’s most acclaimed directors including Robert Altman, Sydney Lumet, David Cronenberg, James Ivory and Woody Allen.
In 1986, Jane founded Capitol Films with Sharon Harel, where she oversaw the financing, production, sales, distribution and marketing of over 100 films including GOSFORD PARK, JEEPERS CREEPERS, GHOST WORLD and THE EDGE OF LOVE. With Jane, Sharon and later Hannah Leader at the helm, the company became synonymous with quality films, often with a literary bias, with strong commercial appeal.
During Jane’s prolific producing career, she has executive produced over 20 films including Robert Altman’s THE COMPANY, Paul McGuigan’s LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN, Roman Polanski’s DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, Sydney Lumet’s BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOUR DEAD, Pat O’Connor’s DANCING AT LUGHNASA and Christine Jeff’s SYLVIA.
Jane has also been a senior tutor at the National Film and Television School on the Creative Business Entrepreneur and executive MA course and was the recipient of the Olswang Business Award at 2002’s Women in Film and TV Awards Ceremony, as well as a finalist for the Veuve Cliquot Business Woman of the Year.
JAMAL DANIEL – PRODUCER
Jamal Daniel is the founder of Levantine Films, a New York based development, production and film financing company, as well as president and chairman of Crest Investment Company with over 30 years of experience managing investments in media, technology, telecommunications, energy, manufacturing and real estate.
Jamal’s first foray into producing was as executive producer of the critically acclaimed film AMREEKA, a film which found recognition at the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals. Since founding Levantine, the company has also produced THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING, BEASTS OF NO NATION, and Academy AwardÒ-nominated HIDDEN FIGURES.
BEN SMITHARD – DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Director of photography Ben Smithard BSC has worked on several feature films, television series and short films, accumulating over 40 credits over the past 20 years.
Ben’s feature film credits include Bharat Nalluri’s THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS; Simon Curtis’ most recent feature GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN; Simon Curtis’ award winning feature MY WEEK WITH MARILYN; John Madden’s THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL; Amma Asante’s BELLE; Declan Lowney’s ALAN PARTRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA and Tom Hooper’s THE DAMNED UNITED.
His TV credits include THE DRESSER, ESIO TROT, THE HOLLOW CROWN: HENRY IV, TRUE LOVE, THE TRIP, MONEY and THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, as well as the award-winning television series CRANFORD and RETURN TO CRANFORD (for which he was awarded a Primetime EMMY Award), to name but a few.
NICHOLAS ELLIS – PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Nicholas Ellis is a production designer who has been involved in the film and television industry for the past thirty years.
His main body of work has been in commercials which has taken him to many locations including France, Namibia, South Africa, Jordan, the Iceland Glaciers, Alaska, Los Angeles, Papua New Guinea and Singapore. He was the recipient of the prestigious award of Production Designer of the Year from the British Television Advertising Craft Awards.
Nicholas has a long-standing relationship with SKY designing the Oscar Ceremony set for the past eight years, the Golden Globes Awards Show and the Al Gore interview with Clive Anderson.
Through his work with filmmaker Gurinder Chadha he has been able to transform deserted mills in Mumbai into bustling Amritza street scenes and created believable set builds in locations in the UK and far beyond.
He has a successful long-standing working relationship with Rocky Morton (the M in MJZ) and has worked with global clients in numerous locations around the world.
Whilst working with Paramount Studios, he was asked to create an environment for a wrap party, which then opened doors to “event design” for many projects covering a variety of industries.
One of his biggest events was for a private client who requested that Battersea Power Station be transformed into a few of their favourite restaurants/clubs from around the world. The Beverley Hills Hotel, Studio 54, An Enchanted Garden and a charming restaurant from a small village in Italy.
Nicholas has strong relationships developed over many years with a plethora of suppliers and collaborators which allows him to design and deliver memorable environments across diverse disciplines.
VINNIE JASSAL – LOCATION MANAGER
Vinnie Jassal’s career path was written the moment his parents named him after Bollywood Superstar Vinod Khanna. After a series of unfortunate hip and vocal cord injuries ravaged his singing and dancing abilities whilst on the cusp of greatness, Vinnie decided to pursue his dream behind the camera instead.
Vinnie has worked as a Location Manager since 2003. Notable early credits include landmark British independent feature films ATTACK THE BLOCK for Big Talk, Noel Clarke’s ADULTHOOD, the Ian Drury biopic SEX & DRUGS & ROCK & ROLL and Clio Barnard’s BAFTA nominated debut THE ARBOR. In recent years Vinnie has graduated to larger scale studio pictures, working closely with director Gareth Edwards on ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, Marc Forster on WORLD WAR Z and Matthew Vaughn on both KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE as well as its sequel, KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE.
In 2012, he became a member of BAFTA.
Vinnie is well used to working intimately with the design, camera and production departments and being involved equally in both the creative challenges and the complex logistical aspects of the filmmaking process. Vinnie now means to use his extensive skills, contact base, and natural instincts to bring to life unique stories of his own, which can flourish both critically and commercially.
Sometimes though, when he’s all alone at night and no one else can see, Vinnie still dances.
ANNIE HARDINGE – COSTUME DESIGNER
Annie Hardinge is a veteran of British film and television. Her film credits include HOT FUZZ, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, RUN FATBOY, RUN.
Annie has worked on some of Britain’s best- loved comedy such as SPACED, BLACK BOOKS, THE I.T. CROWD, THE MIGHTY BOOSH, EPISODES, EXTRAS AND REV. She has won three Royal Society Awards for her work on LITTLE BRITAIN.
Her drama television credits include BBC One’s THE A WORD and HUMANS for Channel 4 and AMC.
She most recently worked on the feature film ‘JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN’ directed by David Kerr.
JOJO WILLIAMS – HAIR AND MAKEUP DESIGNER
JoJo Williams has a wealth of experience as a makeup and hair designer based in the UK. She has a passion for culture and working with different skin tones and hair textures.
Her impressive credits in high-end BAFTA-winning drama and features includes YARDIEdirected by Idris Elba, COMMUTER starring Liam Neeson, BAFTA- winning TV drama BROADCHURCH with Olivia Coleman, the successful TV dramas UNDERCOVER with Sophie Okenado, and DR FOSTER with Suranne Jones, to name a few.
Jojo also does regular personal work with high profile talent including Idris Elba and Daniel Kaluuya.
JUSTIN KRISH – EDITOR
Justin Krish is a film and television editor who started working in cutting rooms in the film and Sellotape era. He learned his craft through the traditional trainee route and assisted on feature films including COMPANY OF WOLVES, SID AND NANCY and STORMY MONDAY. He got his break as editor in 1989 on David Hayman’s SILENT SCREAM (Winner of the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 40th Berlin International Film Festival) on which he picked up his first editing award from The Festival of the Atlantic.
Throughout his career, Justin has moved between feature film and high-profile TV drama, an eclectic mix that includes stop-frame animation, musicals, and a wildlife feature.
His feature credits include BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (Cannes Un Certain Regard winner), BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, BRIDE AND PREJUDICE, NANNY MCPHEE, ANGUS THONGS & PERFECT SNOGGING, the OscarÒ nominated THE PIRATES BAND OF MISFITS!, THE MEERKATS (Editing awards at Jackson Hole & at Durban Wildlife Film festivals) and THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM .
His TV work includes NO OFFENCE (RTS Winner, BAFTA nominated), DOWNTON ABBEY (Golden GlobeÒ winning episode), REBELLION, LUCKY MAN and NEXT OF KIN.
Alongside his work in narrative film and TV, he has continued to cut documentaries, including FRANTZ FANON – BLACK SKIN WHITE MASK, winning a BAFTA for LIE OF THE LAND.
A.R.RAHMAN – ORIGINAL SCORE BY
A. R. Rahman is an Indian composer, singer-songwriter, music producer, musician, multi-instrumentalist and philanthropist.
Described as the world’s most prominent and prolific film composer by Time, his works are notable for integrating Eastern classical music with electronic music sounds, world music genres, and traditional orchestral arrangements.
He has won two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden GlobeÒ, six National Film Awards, fifteen Filmfare Awards and, seventeen Filmfare Awards South in addition to numerous other awards and nominations.
His extensive body of work for film and the stage earned him the nickname “the Mozart of Madras” and several Tamil commentators and fans have coined him the nickname Isai Puyal (English: Music Storm). In 2009, Time placed Rahman in its list of World’s Most Influential People.
The UK based World Music magazine Songlines named him one of ‘Tomorrow’s World Music Icons’ in August 2011. Having set up his own in-house studio called Panchathan Record Inn at Chennai, arguably one of Asia’s most sophisticated and high-tech studios, Rahman’s film- scoring career began in the early 1990s with the Tamil film Roja.
Working in India’s various film industries, international cinema, and theatre, Rahman is one of the world’s all-time top-selling recording artists. In a notable career spanning two decades, Rahman has garnered particular acclaim for redefining contemporary Indian film music and thus contributing to the success of several films.
Rahman is currently one of the highest-paid composers of the motion picture industry. He is a notable humanitarian and philanthropist, donating and raising money for beneficial causes and supporting charities.
MOLINARE – DI AND VFX POSTPRODUCTION
Molinare is the UK’s leading supplier of post-production services for feature film, feature documentaries, and high-end TV. All VFX for BLINDED BY THE LIGHT was completed at Molinare, and the department’s creative director, Dolores McGinley, created the stunning, visceral title sequence. Dolores ensured that the look and feel of the sequence were true to the film’s narrative – as a visual representation of how Javed navigates life, family and love through the music of ‘The Boss’. Dolores also created the on-screen lyrics that appear over the musical interludes, that feature throughout the film.
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT was graded at Molinare by the renowned head of grading Gareth Spensley, who has worked with director Gurinder Chadha on VICEROY’S HOUSE. BLINDED BY THE LIGHT is also the sixth feature project where Gareth has collaborated with cinematographer Ben Smithard.
Molinare’s recent diverse slate of feature film work includes ISLE OF DOGS, BABY DRIVER, GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, YARDIE, and annihilation. Molinare has also worked on the BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning drama THE CROWN, the award-winning dramas KILLING EVE and bodyguard, as well as the Oscar-shortlisted documentary THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS.
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