Mogul Mowgli

Movie review by
Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media
Mogul Mowgli Movie Poster Image
British rap drama has cursing and questions about identity.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Stands out for positive messages.

Positive Messages

Themes include identity, race, family, and what it means to belong. Perseverance and courage are also on display. The idea that through hard work dreams can be achieved is explored, but also how those dreams can disappear as a result of things out of our control. Characters learn to appreciate each other even if they don't fully understand everything about one another.

Positive Role Models

Zed is driven by achieving his goals. He is a loving son, albeit he has seemingly neglected his family somewhat to focus on his career as a rapper. He is accused of forgetting about his heritage and culture, accusations he seemingly takes to heart. When he is diagnosed with a disease he shows great courage and perseverance in trying to overcome it, even if he does initially deny the seriousness of it. Both Zed's parents, Bashir and Nasra, are hardworking and want the best for their son. However, Bashir also shows a reluctance to accept Zed's diagnosis and urges him to refuse the treatment recommended to him.

Violence

Two characters push, shove, and grapple each other, resulting in one falling to the ground. They wake up in the hospital with a cut to the head. Dream-like sequences depict what looks like dead bodies -- a character is seen in close proximity with a large knife. In two further dreams, a character has a wrestle with a mystical figure who strikes them on the head, and later they dream they are choking on a microphone. Reference to a racist attack involving a cricket bat. Reference to a surgical procedure involving removing part of a leg muscle. An alternative medical procedure takes place involving small cuts -- causing some bloodshed. A character repeatedly falls to the floor as a result of their illness.

Sex

Some affection shown between a couple. Character is seen lying awake in bed next to their sleeping partner. A music video shows two people gyrating their backsides with the camera deliberately leering on them. Reference to providing a sperm deposit -- pornographic magazines and DVDs are depicted. While on the phone, a character asks another what they're wearing in order to become aroused. A character is seen in the shower -- shown naked from the waist up.

Language

Multiple uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "piss," "d--k," "d--khead," "wanker," "a--hole," "bloody," "p---y," "p---yhole," "jerk off," "dildo," and "c--t." There are also examples of racial slurs including "Paki," "coconut," and "honky."

Consumerism

Reference to designer labels in various rap songs. The use of mobile phones is both referenced and depicted on multiple occasions. Money and success -- or lack of -- are also discussed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An after-show party shows a large group drinking alcohol. Two characters smoke a joint together. Character must take prescription drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mogul Mowgli is a thought-provoking drama co-written and starring Riz Ahmed as a British Pakistani rapper who is diagnosed with a degenerative muscle disease. There is much cursing throughout the movie, including "motherf----r," "c--t," and "p---y." There are also a number of racial slurs used, which include "Paki," "coconut," and "honky." The movie is high on emotion, as Zed (Ahmed) tries to come to terms with his illness and the impact it will have on his career. However, this is only part of the drama, with the movie also asking difficult questions about family, race, culture, and what they mean collectively as an individual. Though there is no sex in the movie, one scene involves Zed needing to provide a sperm specimen -- pornographic material is briefly depicted. An after-show party depicts a group of revelers drinking alcohol. Two characters share a joint before having an argument, resulting in much pushing and shoving. There are also references to surgery and an alternative treatment involves small cuts being made in a character's back with some bloodshed. The use of mobile phones plays a prominent role in the film, and there is reference to designer labels and lavish spending in a rap video. Although the movie is predominantly in English, some of the dialogue is in Urdu with English subtitles.

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What's the story?

In MOGUL MOWGLI, when British-Pakistani rapper Zed (Riz Ahmed) is offered a tour of the U.S., the dream he has worked so hard to achieve is within his grasp. Before the tour commences, he goes back to the U.K. to see his family. But there, Zed receives devastating news that puts both his health and his career in doubt.

Is it any good?

Ahmed has described this pulsating drama as his most personal film yet. Having co-written and produced Mogul Mowgli, he also stars in the central role as Zed, a British-Pakistani rapper who is on the cusp of super-stardom in the U.S.. But then Zed is diagnosed with a degenerative muscle disease, putting the future he has worked so hard for in jeopardy. Zed must also deal with this crushing news while visiting his family in the U.K., who although supportive of his career, don't fully understand it.

Having established himself as one of his generation's finest actors in the likes of Nightcrawler and The Night Of, Ahmed also gets to showcase his other talent, rapping. His poignant rhymes are delivered with the skill you'd expect from someone who has been MCing for most of his life. Yet this is far more than a showreel of Ahmed's talents. Themes such as identity, race, heritage, and even fertility are all explored, without trying to provide any quick answers to such complex questions. Some of the scenes between Zed and his father, Bashir (Alyy Khan), are particularly moving, managing to avoid being overly sentimental. Personal it maybe, but there's plenty here for anyone who's ever asked themselves what their place in the world is.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the issue of identity as portrayed in Mogul Mowgli. What emotions do you think Zed feels when he visits his family? Do you think his family understands him? Do you think he understands them? What does it mean to be from somewhere? What are the dangers of categorizing people?

  • Talk about some of the language used in the movie. Does it seem necessary or excessive? What does it contribute to the movie?

  • How does Zed deal with his diagnosis? Does that change over time? How does he show courage and perseverance? Why are these good character strengths to have?

Movie details

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