Zaheer’s Journey

Mogul Mowgli

Director: Bassam Tariq

Cast: Riz Ahmed, Anjana Vasan, Aiysha Hart, Andrea Hart, Alyy Khan

British Entry for the European Film Festival 2020

British Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed’s fame in Hollywood rose quite substantially after his initial big screen performance opposite Kate Hudson in Mira Nair’s stunning film The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Since then Ahmed has gone on to star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Venom and Jason Bourne.

Riz Ahmed and director Bassam Tariq co-wrote the British Pakistani film Mogul Mowgli which will be screened virtually at the 2020 European Film Festival, which focuses on the unlikely tale of a Pakistani rapper in a British city, the son of a traditional Pakistani family who immigrated to the UK to make a better life for their children.

Riz Ahmed plays Zed which is short for Zaheer a loud-mouthed and confident rapper who has proven his worth against a group of Nigerian immigrants at a rap competition and is on the cusp of a British tour aided by his manager Vaseem played by Anjana Vasan when tragedy strikes.

Zaheer, after an altercation in an alleyway with a disgruntled rap fan, collapses and is admitted to hospital. After several tests done, Zaheer is diagnosed with motor-neuron disease and his muscles are slowly deteriorating. The diagnosis comes as a shock to Zaheer and his parents particularly his father Bashir played by Alyy Khan.

Zaheer’s reflection on his condition which forces him to revaluate his hopes and dreams and specifically the side effects of the stem cell treatment which will make him infertile, makes up the basis of director Bassam Tariq’s over-directed film Mogul Mowgli which is saved by a stand out performance by Riz Ahmed who is basically in every scene of the film as he shows all of Zaheer’s vulnerability and subsequent humiliation especially as he has to rely on others to survive.

There is a particularly touching scene between Zaheer and his father in the hospital bathroom. Overall Mogul Mowgli is confusing to watch and the script is lacking some form of closure as to the real destiny for Zaheer, but nevertheless it’s his personal journey that counts. Riz Ahmed carries Mogul Mowgli and although this film has a niche appeal, it does showcase the lives of an immigrant community in contemporary Britain.

Mogul Mowgli is an interesting film, but it will not have a broad appeal as it deals with a very specific immigrant community and the strange and difficult choices they have made in attempting to integrate into a Western culture.

Mogul Mowgli gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 is a flawed film about a performance artist that has to deal with a devastating disease.

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