Actor Riz Ahmed has had a young career of incredible choices. From star-making turns in Nightcrawler and The Sisters Brothers to an Emmy-winning performance as a man charged with murder in HBO mini-series The Night Of, he’s been on my radar for a while.
Despite some throwaway performances in blockbuster franchises like Star Wars and Venom, he’s proven he has the capacity for great things. In Mogul Mowgli — the dark, difficult tale of a rap star who, on the cusp of a huge tour — becomes very ill, he makes this shot count.
The debut feature film from documentarian Bassam Tariq is bold, inventive and boasts a cinematography job from Annika Summerson worth watching. Though we don’t understand everything going on in the flashbacks and headtrips for this British Pakistani rapper on the brink, we do feel for him.
All the emotion internally and captured on Ahmed’s face in each scene is impossible not to notice. His fight to pull away from his family’s traditional values and his wish to break away is under threat from this illness. The frantic, fraught feelings that escape Ahmed in every scene are amazing to witness.
It’s uneven narratively and meanders slightly, but Ahmed puts in a fantastic performance so full of dread and intrigue that you can’t look away.
The fact he also produced and co-wrote the script with Tariq shows even more potential for the burgeoning star. While this Mogul won’t go down as legendary, Ahmed will blow your mind.