Written by Taylor Baker
Tariq’s choice to keep a tighter aspect ratio in conjunction with repetitive close ups and smart if a bit overdone sound design create an experience that is far more felt than seen. His past work as a documentarian and the flourishes he learned in that work are clearly present here, thus adding a passive layer of believability. But it’s his leaning on the frenetic moments in the restaurant and the dreamlike encounters with a figure from one of Ahmed’s tapes that show he has something personal to offer in the medium of fictional storytelling.
Ahmed’s character Zed would normally be fashioned a tragic character in lesser hands. A victim of the world and the story. Their choice to keep neutrality on this by delicately building out characters and sequences of dialogue where he is unsympathetic or just a plain asshole reap a reward of treating the audience as mature and not spoon-feeding us.
Not unlike Zed in the picture, the film does stumble along the way to it’s end. There is a lack of engrossment in the narrative, for periods of time you find yourself seeing the exact material you thought you would. Until Tariq breaks convention and pulls you back in, or you see the flashback/dreamlike sequences from the train and are drawn back.
In the end Mogul Mowgli doesn’t reinvent the wheel, or rise to glorious heights of cinematic storytelling. What it does do is cement the growth of Ahmed as an artist not just a performer, and establishes the budding flower of a possible cinematic duo for decades to come in Tariq and Ahmed as collaborators. I certainly hope Tariq brings us another feature film soon, I think he’s just getting started.
Mogul Mowgli is part of the Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 line up.
VIFF Website: https://www.viff.org/Online/