Near the Jugular

January 2021

Riz Ahmed and Bassam Tariq look at their cinematic influences, including the films that inspired their new feature Mogul Mowgli.


Killer of Sheep

Movies that inspired Mogul Mowgli

  • Tokyo Story

    Tokyo Story

    One of the greatest films of all time, Ozu’s masterpiece meditates on youth, ageing and family.

  • A Man Escaped

    A Man Escaped

    Robert Bresson’s account of a prison break is precise and philosophically nuanced.

  • The Night is Young

    The Night is Young

    Stylish and colourful 80s crime story starring Juliette Binoche.

  • Close-Up


    A cinephile is placed on trial for fraud in Kiarostami’s masterpiece.

  • Meeting People Is Easy

    Meeting People Is Easy

    Documentary following Radiohead on tour with their ‘OK Computer’ album.

  • The Three Rooms of Melancholia

    The Three Rooms of Melancholia

    A searing examination of the conflict between Russia and Chechnya.

  • Gueros


    A single mother who feels unable to cope with her young son sends him to stay with his brother in Mexico.

  • The Fits

    The Fits

    11-year-old African-American tomboy Toni joins a dance team and struggles to find acceptance.

  • First Reformed

    First Reformed

    Paul Schrader’s latest film focuses on a pastor and his crisis of faith.

Movies that have been influential in our lives

  • Killer of Sheep

    Killer of Sheep

    A classic of African-American realist cinema depicting everyday life in 70s LA.

  • Stalker


    Celebrated sci-fi allegory following two men as they navigate the police state they inhabit.

  • Goodfellas


    Scorsese’s kinetic gangster classic.

  • Three Colours: Blue

    Three Colours: Blue

    Juliette Binoche stars in Kieslowski’s trilogy opener.

  • La Haine

    La Haine

    Mathieu Kassovitz throws a cinematic Molotov cocktail at structural racism, police brutality and media manipulation.

  • Gummo


    Harmony Korine’s transgressive film set in a tornado-stricken town.

  • The Thin Red Line

    The Thin Red Line

    Malick’s epic WW2 movie is at once poetic and philosophical, searing and serene.

  • Oldboy


    Park’s wilfully grotesque fable about an abductee trying to fathom the mysteries of his past.

  • Hidden


    Haneke’s rich, resonant, suspenseful drama about a chatshow host being sent anonymous videos.

  • Ballast


    A vivid, insightful, wintry drama about the effects of a man’s suicide on those around him.

  • Four Lions

    Four Lions

    Brave and perceptive satire about young British Mulsim men aspiring – ineptly – to become suicide bombers.

  • These Birds Walk

    These Birds Walk

    An inspirational tale of resilience, centred on a young Pakistani boy struggling to survive in Karachi.

  • Ida


    Two related but very different women take a journey together around early 60s Poland.


‘I pray these films can equally expand your heart and karate chop you near the jugular’

The best film experiences provoke wordless reactions. They hit you so close to your core that you have no choice but submit to its truth. There is strong authorship but also a desire to connect with an audience. Which in a way might seem contradictory, but I don’t believe so. When we are truest to ourselves, the more specific and vulnerable we are, the stronger we can connect with those around us. Perhaps this comes from my Islamic understanding of creativity and its inseparable connection to Divinity; as God is described by many attributes in Islam, the one that I seem to keep returning to is Al-Khaliq, The Unprecedented Creator. Which means that every moment and every creation in existence is unprecedented; it has never existed before the way it has in front of us as it does now, and it will never again exist as such. Like that, so are we. Each one of us is a unique manifestation of God’s Divine Attributes and in celebrating our uniqueness we are affirming an Unspeakable Beauty.

These films hit Riz and me close to our jugular veins. They push us to be better, more compassionate filmmakers. These films stretch the possibilities of filmmaking and even in their supposed ‘vulgarity’ there is a submission to Divinity that perhaps the filmmakers themselves would scoff at – but that’s the reality that I see. Whether you believe or do not, it shouldn’t matter. The best films are like the best of the Sufis; they allow space for us all to exist: heretics, agnostics and believers of all shapes.

Bassam Tariq/Riz Ahmed

New release

  • Mogul Mowgli

    Mogul Mowgli

    Bassam Tariq’s visceral directorial debut, co-written with Riz Ahmed, finds a British-Pakistani rapper’s life spiralling out of control when, on the cusp of success, he succumbs to a debilitating illness.