Rating: 3 out of 5.

Co-written by Oscar nominee Riz Ahmed, the inspirational new drama Mogul Mowgli sees the seasoned actor once again stepping in the shoes of a disabled musician. Zed (Ahmed) is on the cusp of a hard-earned world tour when an illness cripples his mobility. Zed is forced to move back in with his family, embrace his Pakistani roots, and make a difficult decision about his budding rap career. Director Bassam Tariq imbues the concert scenes with exciting energy and movement that showcases Ahmed’s indelible talent.

Zed’s family is deeply religious—when he is first admitted to the hospital, one of them says “there’s a very strong evil eye on him.” The film feels rooted in Pakistani customs, spreading cultural influences into every frame. There’s sadness to Zed’s journey, and the uplifting support of his family and friends forces him to be at his most vulnerable. Visceral imagery never clicks in a meaningful way despite adding a layer of personal touch to a predictable narrative structure. If you’ve seen one inspirational movie, you’ve seen them all. It’s impossible not to see where the film is headed. Nevertheless, the collaboration between Riz Ahmed and director Bassam Tariq elevates the more obvious beats of the plot with an electric musicality. Riz Ahmed turns in another stellar performance driven by passion and identity.

Mogul Mowgli screened at the Seattle International Film Festival, April 8th – April 18th, 2021.

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