By Jasmine King
Bassam Tariq’s Mogul Mowgli follows Zed (Riz Ahmed), a popular British-Pakistani rapper whose ambition is to perform on his first international tour. After spending time performing gigs in New York, Zed flies back to the UK to visit his family, whom he hasn’t seen for a couple of years. During this time, however, he is suddenly plagued by a disease leaving his debut tour in limbo.
Mogul Mowgli opens with a bang! As Ahmed takes us back to his MC roots (Riz MC), the eruption of energy transferred to us via the performance is extraordinary. Tariq’s style of documentary filmmaking is evident in the film’s scenes, in particular when Zed is captured reminiscing upon the mixtapes that he created as a youngster in his family home. Archived footage of Ahmed as a young boy accompanies this particular moment, assisting in illustrating his ever-present passion for music to viewers.
The film tackles identity issues through rising conflict as friends imply that Zed isn’t proud of his Pakistani roots. They often label him as a “sellout” and one can remark that the way he changed his name from ‘Zaheer’ to ‘Zed’ is an indication of the struggles faced in Britain as a Pakistani descendent. To change his name in order to fit into society more comfortably, despite the fact that the lyrics of his songs seem to, in actuality, indicate holding pride towards his heritage, illustrates this further.
We see him returning to his roots throughout the story, attending prayer at a Mosque and rediscovering who he truly is.
Upon Zed falling ill, the film does a great job of capturing the real and raw scenes of his ongoing treatment. From the highs of family and friends coming together in solidarity, to the lows portraying the struggles in his surrounding relationship with his parents, Ahmed, Tariq and the supporting cast are to be commended for their tremendous efforts on and off the screen.
Mogul Mowgli teaches us the importance of self-acceptance and overcoming our deepest trials while simultaneously acknowledging the struggles that those in similar positions to Zed face on a day-to-day basis. Zed’s characterisation is captured thoughtfully, which will never go unappreciated, and neither shall his journey. This film is more than worthy of a watch!
Images: Taken from IMDB