We all have dreams of some kind or another. Only some of us are lucky enough to attain those dreams. We all know the struggle. This film, which debuted at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival, plays upon that theme. Of how we will do practically anything to make our dreams come true. Along the way, we might not get what we were hoping for but still end up with what we need.
Being on the verge of finally making it in the music business, British Pakistani rapper Zed (Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal, Rogue One) is on the cusp of stardom. He is about to embark on his first world tour. A big step in the career of any musician. As this is about to happen he is diagnosed with an illness. Puts everything he has dreamed of in jeopardy. This illness is linked to his past, his family and his legacy.
Who and what we are. Big ticket items in life. How we identify ourselves equals where we see ourselves in the world. Go hand in hand. Just as important is a person’s heritage. Where you come from. Who your people are. One feeds into the other. When all this jeopardizes what you are passionate about in life then this is not only a tragedy but the perfect story for a film.
Riz Ahmad is on a hot streak. Everything he touches or acts in seems to turn to gold. The guy cannot seem to turn in a bad or even average performance. This is his time. When people acknowledge that the guy is uber talented. Following up on his lauded performance in Sound of Metal he is back in another film with a musical core. Again his character is struck with something physical which puts his career in danger. This time instead of just struggling with the autoimmune disease, Zed also has to deal with issues of culture, tradition and expectations from family. It demands of Ahmad that he move between portraying a confident young man to one who is vulnerable and frail. He excels.
While Riz Ahmad is steady as can be the man behind the camera, Bassam Tariq (), is shaky at times. Some of his decisions don’t translate too well. For instance, the flashback scenes are motion sickness inducing and a lot of the film feels like stream of consciousness rather than a cogent piece of work. None of this helps tell the interesting and important story. Despite all of this Mogul Mowgli is an emotional watch.