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Mogul Mowgli

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Mogul Mowgli
Photograph: BFI Distribution

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Riz Ahmed raps through familial dislocation, disability and the horror of Partition in this compelling drama

You wait ages for a role as an obsessive musician who gets brought low by a shock diagnosis, and then two of them come along at once. Before starring as a thrash-metal drummer losing his hearing in the upcoming Sound of Metal, Riz Ahmed picks up the mic as a stricken rapper in a fierce examination of identity, family and the past. If this blood-and-thunder drama is anything to go by, you already feel for the drum kit.

Mogul Mowgli sees Ahmed (part of hip-hop outfit Swet Shop Boys IRL) channel his own music to depict Zed, a rapper on the verge of a big American tour. But his girlfriend (Aiysha Hart), less impressed with his absences, suggests he reconnect with his disapproving family in London.

Then comes shock news: Zed has an autoimmune disease. He falls from the spotlight and is left feeling like an outsider. The slur ‘coconut’ – brown on the outside, white within – is lobbed at him as he struggles to rebuild, and a younger rival RPG (Nabhaan Rizwan) nips at his heels.

Ahmed, who also co-wrote the script, is in career-best form. Zed’s run-ins with his dad would be formulaic were it not for his visceral presence and a great turn by Alyy Khan as the father. But Ahmed is at his best in Zed’s darkest hour, as he struggles to hold it together in a hospital cubicle. It’s blistering stuff. 

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Stephen A Russell
Written by
Stephen A Russell

Cast and crew

  • Director:Bassam Tariq
  • Screenwriter:Bassam Tariq, Riz Ahmed
  • Cast:
    • Riz Ahmed
    • Aiysha Hart
    • Kiran Sonia Sawar
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