Feature: Riz Ahmed for Esquire Singapore

Very is an overused superlative but when it comes to Riz Ahmed, it’s necessary. He is a very thought-provoking human being. He is a 37-year-old British Pakistani very well versed in championing diversity and calling out the right from the wrong. He is a very thoughtful creative and society’s wellbeing hangs upon his conscience more so than most. , both of award-winning acclaim.

You will recognise Ahmed from the intense roles he nails on the big screen in Four Lions, Venom, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Nightcrawler and Jason Bourne as well as his small-screen-stealing parts in The Night Of and The OA. If you haven’t, watch him in The Road to Guantanamo too. His music, born from university days as Riz MC then that of underground Swet Shop Boys fame, has an avid following with hits like ‘Englistan’ and Cashmere respectively. More recently, his solo album The Long Goodbye—dubbed as a poignant break-up with Britain—was well received and perhaps presents the clearest indication to date of what Riz Ahmed is about.

Today, on an August bank holiday Mondaysitting two metres away from us in a Hackney studio, Ahmed is just playing himself. His jumper, like the exposed brick behind him and the wooden bench between us, is beige—noticeably unremarkable. His beard is tittering on unkempt and his brown eyes offer a semblance of security while in his periphery. His phone, visible in the pocket of his distressed jeans, remains there, untouched for the duration of our time together. He is relaxed and nowhere else but present.

We are here to discuss his two latest films, Sound of Metal and Mogul Mowgli, but currently we’re mulling over the cultural implications of being left-handed. “They say it’s linked to creativity,” muses Ahmed, which would make sense in his talented case. He proceeds to relay how his grandmother was left-handed but had her left hand tied behind her back and was forced to write with her right hand due to, we surmise, the social pressures of being left-handed and a cultural perception of bad luck dating back to biblical times. “It’s weird, isn’t it?” ponders Ahmed. “But not a completely flippant thing to bring up when talking about the evolution of our consciousness in today’s world.” [More at Source]

January 20, 2021

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