Riz Ahmed plays a rapper struck down by an unknown illness as he's on the brink of a career breakthrough.
Most people will be aware of Riz Ahmed's work as an actor thanks to projects such as The Night Of and Venom, but they may not know he's also a talented rapper who goes by the name of Riz MC.
That should all change thanks to Mogul Mowgli, which combines both of his passions and puts his full range of talents on display.
In the movie, Ahmed plays British-Pakistani rapper Zed, who has been living in New York for some time and is on the brink of a major break in his career. He goes home to see his parents in London for the first time in two years ahead of an upcoming tour.
Out of nowhere, he collapses and awakens in the hospital to discover he has an autoimmune disease.
Mogul Mowgli, written by Ahmed and director Bassam Tariq, is a fantastic showcase of Ahmed’s talents.
He gives a career-best performance, one that is deeply personal and emotionally raw as well as physically impressive, with him convincingly looking like he’s wasting away and losing control over his body.
If that wasn’t enough, the film also shines a spotlight on his incredible rapping skills and his ability to create well-observed, pointed, and politically-charged lyrics.
Whether you've seen him rap as Riz MC before or not, seeing his lyrical work in the context of a film is seriously impressive. He has the audience hooked on his every word.
The film really excels with the rap scenes and it's a shame there wasn't more.
However, outside of the rap scenes and Ahmed's performance, the film as a whole is something of a disappointment.
The story could have been fleshed out a little more, it didn't really dig beneath the surface, we didn't get to know the characters very well, and the ending leaves the viewer with many questions.
The concept was cool and it explored interesting themes such as identity and reconnecting with your roots, but the dream-like, surreal, hallucinatory moments just didn’t work.
They serve a purpose and give us an idea of Zed's mindset, but they were odd and distracting and there were too many, so they derailed the flow of the main narrative.
The film is ambitious and very personal but it's told in an experimental and quirky way that may not suit everyone.
Available to stream on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday 6th November.
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