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‘Mogul Mowgli’ review: Songs of faith and devotion

A showcase for Ahmed.

Mogul Mowgli will initially make some music fans think of Riz Ahmed’s last film Sound of Metal. Zed is a British Pakistani rapper about to go on his first world tour. Before he leaves, he learns he is suffering from a disease that leads to muscle degeneration. This causes him to look back on his family and life. 

The film uses a variety of methods to let the audience into Zed’s life. There are flashbacks, dream sequences and hallucinations. In other words, there is a lot going on in Mogul Mowgli. Because of the amount of cinematic tricks being used, there can be a sensory overload, but things never get confusing. 

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Mogul Mowgli also has a slightly different way of taking on immigration. Most stories deal with the issue in one of two ways: either the struggle is highlighted or a person comes to accept their culture. The plot leans towards the latter, but it is not so much that Zed has shunned his past as he has just avoided dealing with it.

In order to make the story more relatable, the film does rely on stock characters. This is a necessary evil of this type of tale – and a lot of storytelling in general. The more familiar a character is, the easier it is for the audience to understand what is happening.  

Ahmed’s terrific performance overshadows the flaws in Mogul Mowgli. Zed requires emotional range and a physical buy-in to work effectively. Without both, the movie becomes uninteresting. Ahmed makes it a compelling watch. 

Ultimately, Mogul Mowgli is a showcase for star Riz Ahmed. It deals with important themes, but it also lacks depth. The family dynamic is interesting to watch, but it is also relatively basic. Ahmed is able to pick up the slack in another entertaining role.

Mogul Mowgli comes to theaters September 3

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