Blinded by the Light executive producer and Springsteen’s director of international marketing Tracy Nurse recalls how two of her client’s superfans from India got him to approve the film that should introduce him to a whole new audience.
Back in 2010, I was in the United Kingdom with Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and Barbara Carr [Springsteen’s co-managers] for a premiere of The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town. As we were walking into the theater, Bruce saw Sarfraz Manzoor standing on the red carpet. Sarfraz had written his memoir, Greetings From Bury Park, about emigrating with his family from Pakistan to Luton [in England] in the ’80s [and about his love of Springsteen’s music]. He went over to Sarfraz and said, “Hey, man, I read your book. It was beautiful.”
Sarfraz nearly fainted. He was with director Gurinder Chadha, and they’re both uber-uber Springsteen fans. While Sarfraz was trying to catch his breath, Gurinder said, “Bruce, I made Bend It Like Beckham, and I’d love to make a film of Sarfraz’s book.” Bruce looked at her and said, “Talk to Jon.” That was 2010. I didn’t see them again until 2016, when we were back in the U.K. Bruce was doing a Q&A about his autobiography, and Sarfraz and Gurinder were there again. They told me they’d started work on the script and that they’d get it to me. Obviously I passed it along to Barbara and Jon, and, ultimately, Bruce, and we got the green light.
One of the most appealing things about [the film] was the chance to connect in markets where Bruce traditionally hasn’t sold a lot of catalog. Suddenly [with the advent of streaming], if you can shine a light through a movie on an artist’s catalog, you can create an opportunity for a whole new audience. Music resonates so deeply, especially in a film like Blinded by the Light, which is very emotional and has messages as relevant today as they were in 1987. It’s almost as if the songs were written for this film.
This article originally appeared in the May 25 issue of Billboard.