Riz Ahmed is having quite the resurgence in his career lately. After a star-making role in the HBO mini-series The Night Of, he has been doing some great work, as evidenced in Sound of Metal last year from Amazon Prime. He has garnered an Academy Award nomination for his role of Ruben Stone, a heavy metal drummer who is starting to become deaf from being too close to all the loud music. His role in Mogul Mowgli is warily similar to that one that got him so much acclaim.
Zed (Rid Ahmed) is a British-Pakistani rapper. He’s about to embark on a world tour. This is the big break in his career he’s been waiting for. Before the tour, he decides to go back home to visit his family, who he’s not seen in over two years. While there, he falls ill and it could be a life-threatening disease. This could mean the end of the tour and his career as a rapper.
Zed’s family and girlfriend, Nina (Aiysha Hart), both have reservations about what he should do moving forward. Should he get treatment or and or pass his slot on the tour to another rapper? These are tough decisions for anybody in this situation. Everybody has ideas on what’s good for Zed. His family has reservations on whether or not this was the right career path for him and his girlfriend is thinking of the dollar signs. These are tough moments for anybody in the situation Zed is in.
Filmmaker Bassam Tariq made this film from a screenplay from Ahmed and himself. They knew this world of the British-Pakistani family dynamic very well. The overbearing father figure is one we’ve seen in plenty of movies before such as Blinded by the Light. These are familiar tropes that are interwoven perfectly throughout this hard-hitting drama.
Giving the lead character in a film a disease is a way to bring out the dramatic moments of the main character. Adding in dream sequences makes the overall story that much harder to handle for him, and therefore making the film a difficult one to watch. As the viewer, you feel bad for what this character, Zed, is going through. People can relate to this type of thing. Everybody has family who is or has been sick and it’s not always easy to deal with a sick relative or family member. These aspects of the film work very effectively.
I’m not the biggest fan of rap music, but the rapping was understandable and played into who the main character was. Using this as the way to get into the mind of Zed was a perfect avenue to go down. The acting was flawless from everybody involved and may garner Ahmed another Academy Award nomination next year. The parts of the film about where he is from and what he is all about as a British-Pakistani Man work as well. They help the viewer to get invested in him as a character and eventually care about him. This film is an exceptional character study on the level of The Father and Sound of Metal.
Dan Skip Allen