Mogul Mowgli: Film Review

I’m a huge fan of Riz Ahmed so I couldn’t resist checking out his latest movie Mogul Mowgli, and while his performance blew me away, I wasn’t particularly taken with the movie.

Ahmed plays British-Pakistani rapper Zed, who has been living in New York for some time and is on the brink of a major break in his career. He goes home to see his parents in London for the first time in two years ahead of an upcoming tour. Out of nowhere, he collapses and awakes in the hospital to discover he has an autoimmune disease.

Mogul Mowgli is a fantastic showcase for Ahmed’s talents. Not only does he give a deeply personal, emotionally raw performance, but he also throws himself into the part physically, with him convincingly looking like he’s wasting away and losing control over his body. If that wasn’t enough, the film also shines a spotlight on his incredible rapping skills and his ability to create well-observed, pointed, and politically-charged lyrics. I was aware of his rapping talent as I’d watched a few of his music videos as Riz MC but seeing them in the context of a film made such a difference. The film really excels with the rap scenes and I wish there had been more.

Unfortunately, the film as a whole didn’t quite come together for me. It was very watchable and I enjoyed the main narrative, but the dream-like, surreal, hallucinatory moments just didn’t work for me. I know that they had a purpose and were designed to show Zed exploring his identity and reconnecting with his roots, but there were too many and they distracted from the main event. I also felt like the story could have been fleshed out a little more and I wanted it to dig deeper into the characters.

The film, which Ahmed wrote with director Bassam Tariq, is ambitious and very personal and I could appreciate the themes it was trying to explore but it was a bit too indie and quirky for my liking.

Available to watch on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema on Friday 6th November

Rating: 3 out of 5.