MIFF 2020: Mogul Mowgli (2020)

Director: Bassam Tariq

Writers: Riz Ahmed, Bassam Tariq

Stars: Riz Ahmed, Alyy Khan, Sudha Bhuchar, Aiysha Hart, Nabhaan Rizwan, Anjana Vasan


British rapper Zed (Riz Ahmed) is a hip hop artist around mid-tier in the US circuit after 15 years hard slog. He has finally gotten his break getting a support slot for a European tour with a much bigger act and decides to stop by in England and visit his parents who he hasn’t seen for several years. As things turn out he ends up having to stay a lot longer as he finds he has a genetic condition and he has to face some hard truths about himself and his past.

I got this film with the 3 film music bundle and was not really on board as it is not my preferred genre so it had to win me over. The music performance scenes and music is impressive as Riz Ahmed wrote it himself and there are a lot of other musicians on the cast. “Pussy Fried Chicken” was written by Nabhaan Rizwan who plays the younger rapper RPG as Riz Ahmed says “he is not that genius”.

It does feel very authentic as it is based on Riz’s own story and he met the director while working on a film and they wanted to work together. A lot of the things from the film are based on their actual experiences.

I liked his dad’s many cardigans and when he goes to their house and finds his parents still have not used the new washer “the old one still works”. The scene where they are talking about names is from the Riz Ahmed’s own journey where he has a name only his family and friends used and his now shortened name for his acting and music work.

He also said in the Q&A that they didn’t want to go down the usual route of this type of story by having either a social realist/anthropological or comedy type story. It is more based on Eastern style storytelling that involves dreams and things repeating in a cycle as you not meant to know what is real all the time.

Nabhaan Rizwan as RPG was also great as the next generation who idolises Zed, but knows that he can’t stand him. In real life Riz Ahmed has the opposite feeling towards this actor as he is a lot like him in many ways.

Alyy Khann who plays Zed’s father is great as he is very Indian but also very English. “I do tell you what I think but you don’t listen to me”. He is very conservative but does still love his son. His mother is more understanding and seems stuck in the middle of the two.

I would recommend this one if you are a fan of hip hop, rap and spoken word. Also if you are the kind of person who would record Eminem over the tape of their parents’ wedding VHS like Riz Ahmed did.



The Long Goodbye – short film


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