Mogul Mowgli Review – BFI London Film Festival 2020
Director: Bassam Tariq
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Alyy Khan, Sudha Bhuchar, Nabhaan Rizwan, and Anjana Vasan
From director Bassam Tariq, Riz Ahmed co-writes and stars in new drama Mogul Mowgli.
He plays a young British-Pakistani rapper who has just come to the end of a small but successful solo tour.
As a result, he lands a spot as the opening act for a famous artist on their upcoming world tour.
Before he embarks on this new tour he returns to his family home in London, however when he ends up in hospital shortly after this his career plans for the immediate future are put at risk.
Who Do You Think You Are?
The film opens with Ahmed’s character Zed performing on stage.
He raps to a sold-out venue, basking in the electricity of the crowd’s response as they hang on his every word.
This isn’t really a film about rap though, so if you aren’t a fan of this genre of music fear not as there’s much more to engage with aside from just this.
Unexpectedly there are even some moments of comedy included, fleeting as they are they still prove very effective and help to give the film some variety in its tone.
However, at its heart Mogul Mowgli is a film about identity, family and where you’re from.
These are the constant themes throughout the film and Zed wrestles with these ideas as he is forced to question what really matters in life.
The film breezes by thanks to its short running time and good pacing, and whilst it’s impressive to convey so much so succinctly it feels like there was maybe more to this film than ended up in the final cut, or at least there could be.
The history of Zed’s family is teased for most of the film but definitely could have been explored a little bit further.
Leading Man Riz Ahmed
The strength of Ahmed’s performance means that there would be no issue spending another ten minutes or so with the film and fully exploring all of its themes.
He immediately sells the performer in Zed, conveying his passion and talent through his portrayal of him in the opening moments and throughout the film.
There’s no doubt that Ahmed is the standout element of the film.
He continually reminds audiences of just how capable he is as a leading man, elevating every single scene that he’s in.
This role demands a lot from him and he delivers everything that is required, both physically and emotionally.
Mogul Mowgli is a film that asks its audience do you know where you’re from, truly?
What is your family history and what events have lead you to where you are in your life in this very moment?
It does this through Zed’s story and his family’s story of fleeing the Partition and immigrating to the U.K.
It tells the story of a whole generation of British-Pakistanis and the subsequent generation whose identities are more complex and who seek the answers of who they are and where they came from.
As Zed exclaims in one of his raps, the answer to the question of where he comes from is a long one and that’s what Mogul Mowgli tells the story of, Zed working this out and how it impacts his life and career.
And speaking of careers it’s a remarkable moment for Ahmed’s as he brings so much of himself to this character and confidently portrays him, delivering one of his greatest performances to date.
Ultimately proving that he is no opening act, but instead very much the headliner.
What do you make of this news?
Are you going to be watching Mogul Mowgli when you can?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.