Riz Ahmed to Play Rapper in Pulse Films' 'Mughal Mowgli' (Exclusive)

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Riz Ahmed

The film marks the feature directorial debut of documentary filmmaker Bassam Tariq, with Ahmed producing through his Left Handed Films banner.

Riz Ahmed is set to play the lead in Mughal Mowgli, a film which Ahmed co-wrote and will produce alongside Pulse Films.

The drama marks the feature directorial debut of documentary filmmaker Bassam Tariq, whose recent effort Ghosts of Sugar Land recently won the non-fiction short film award at Sundance and was acquired by Netflix. His first doc, 2013's These Birds Walk, premiered at SXSW was recently named one of the 50 best foreign films of the 21st century by The New Yorker.

A spiritual drama about a British Pakistani rapper who, on the cusp of his first world tour, is struck down by an epigenetic illness that threatens to derail his big break, Mughal Mowgli was co-written by Tariq and Ahmed, most recently seen in Venom but also known for starring roles in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jason Bourne and HBO's The Night Of, for which he won an Emmy. Ahmed produces through his own Left Handed Films banner, alongside Pulse Films' Thomas Benski and Bennett McGhee, and Michael Peay. 

Production on Mughal Mowgli is set to begin this month in association with Silvertown Films, with BBC Films, Cinereach, SFFILM Invest, Vice Studios and RYOT Films having boarded as financiers.

Ahmed, who is currently prepping the TV drama Englistan for the BBC, has plenty of experience as a rapper, having emerged in the London music scene under the name Riz MC and performing both as a solo artist and with his band Swet Shop Boys. His provocative solo release Post 9/11 Blues was banned before a viral groundswell forced it onto radio, while the Swet Shop Boys album Cashmere landed the group major festival gigs including Coachella and Glastonbury.

Dimitra Tsingou for Pulse Films, Eva Yates for BBC Films and Suroosh Alvi for Vice Studios will executive produce Mughal Mowgli alongside Cinereach. Pulse will produce in association with Silvertown and Left Handed.

“I’m excited to be finally be working on a feature with my friends at Pulse Films and my co-conspirator Bassam Tariq,” Ahmed said in a statement. “We are setting out to do something different, and do it in a bold way.”

“Collaborating with Bassam and Riz on Mughal Mowgli goes to the heart of our studio’s ethos: to tell human stories that capture moments of culture," said Pulse Films CEO Benski. "Bassam and Riz are among the most exciting creators around, and both embody true talent. Their stories will provide audiences with work that not only stands out, but pushes the boundaries of cinema and storytelling. I am equally thrilled to be producing this project with Riz and excited to watch his talents as a producer, songwriter and performer take center stage."

Added Benski: "We are also delighted to align with our partners BBC Films, Cinereach, SFFILM Invest, Vice Studios and RYOT Films, whose support is a real testament of Bassam and Riz’s vision."

Commented Yates of BBC Films: “Bassam’s documentary work marks him out as a filmmaker of great vision and compassion, and this brilliant collaboration with Riz promises a unique debut feature that we are very proud to be part of.“

Ahmed is repped by Gordon & French in the U.K., CAA and Gang, Tyre, Ramer Brown & Passman.