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UK Asian Film Festival is 25 – starts tomorrow and 11-day film extravaganza sees celebrities and filmmakers come together to mark momentous occasion…

UK Asian Film Festival is 25 – starts tomorrow and 11-day film extravaganza sees celebrities and filmmakers come together to mark momentous occasion…

A grand opening and closing are just part of an exciting programme…

BRITAIN’S oldest South Asian film festival – which started out as the women orientated Tongues on Fire – celebrates 25 years and has some special events to mark this great achievement.

Radhika Madan (Instagram)

There are a host of stars expected to attend with Rajkummar Rao, Radhika Madan, and ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ (2016) director, Alankritika Shirvastava, among the new generation of names from the mainstream Indian film fraternity and Adil Hussain, Poonam Dhillon, Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi, among a set who started out in a different era. British stars Antonio Aakeel (‘Slow Horses’ and ‘Eaten by Lions’ and part-London based Nimra Bucha (‘Polite Society’ and ‘Ms Marvel’) will also attend.

There are screenings in London, Leicester, Manchester and Glasgow – see the website link for those programmes.

There are still tickets for tomorrow’s opening – click here if you want to snap them up…

Rajkummar Rao

We’ve picked out just SIX SPOTLIGHT screenings and talks from the festival which begins tomorrow (May 4) with the Opening Gala event at the BFI Southbank. is thrilled to be both a digital media partner and a corporate sponsor – read more about the only British made feature film ‘Footprints on Water’ which enjoys its European premiere on Saturday, May 13 afternoon at The Kiln in Kilburn, London in a separate piece shortly. London-based Nathalia Syam tells us a bit more about the film she made with well-known Indian actor, Adil Hussain and British star Aakeel. Syam jets off to New York next week for the World Premiere of her film at the New York Indian Film Festival.

The 25th anniversary celebration of ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ with the fabulous four in attendance and discussing the impact of one of the most iconic TV series of recent times.

Nina Wadia, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar

There will be a screening of one the episodes of the series that ran from 1998-2001 and had a global following. Nina Wadia and Kulvinder Ghir and writer Sanjeev Kohli will attend a panel and audience-goers are being invited to share their memories. How could you resist? Actor Jassa Ahluwalia moderates.

Bank Holiday May 8 2023 – 3pm Beck Theatre, Grange Road, Hayes UB3 2UE
More info/tickets:

Talking Life (talk)

Javed Akhtar, Nasreen Munni Kabir and Shabana Azmi

One of India’s best known film couples – Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi talk to UK film journalist and curator Nasreen Muni Kabir about their new book, ‘Talking Life’, chronicling their lives as a lyricist, poet, screenwriter and award-winning iconic actor, respectively.

Friday, May 13 7pm
The British Library, 96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB
More Info/tickets:

Opening & Closing Gala Events (Red Carpet)

Poonam Dhillon

There are a host of stars expected to attend these red carpet events at the BFI Southbank. The fest opens with the UK premiere of ‘Sanaa’, starring Madan. It is about a career woman who on the brink of one of her most important professional moments discovers she is expecting. Played brilliantly by Madan, alongside Pooja Bhatt ad Sohum Shah, this a riveting tale of a woman caught in a profound dilemma. Directed by Sudhanshu Saria who will appear in a Q&A with Madan (‘Angrezi Medium’, ‘Paatakha’,) after the screening, and moderated by Smita Tharoor, counsellor (sister of well-known Indian politician Shashi). Catch the glamour on the Red Carpet too.

Tomorrow (Thursday May 4) 5.45pm BFI Southbank, Belevedere Road London SE1 8XT

More info/Tickets: Here

Closing – Sunday, May 14 Billed as a ‘Meeting of Cultures’ it ends with a heritage film, festival awards and celebrity appearances…

There’s also a live performance of dance from students at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance who will honour the centenary of the collaboration between Indian classical dancer Uday Shankar with Prima Ballerina Anna Pavlova and their first performance together at the Royal Opera House in 1923. Shankar – the older brother of Pandit Ravi Shankar – is credited with first introducing the West to Indian classical dance. The documentary is under an hour long and examins this collaboration and features some of the stars of modern day Indian classical dance Akram Khan and Vidya Patel talking about Shankar, the dancer. Ahluwalia presents as the festival hands out its own Tongues on Fire Awards. Block out the day 😉 with another red carpet featuring Bollywood stars Rajkummar Rao, Pooja Bhatt, and actors Nimra Bucha and Vinay Pathak, among others, to bring the curtain down on the 25th UK Asian Film Festival (Tongues on Fire) festivities.

Sunday, May 14 1.30pm – BFI Southbank, (see above)

More/tickets: Here

Pakistani film Kamli


Well-known director Sarmad Khoosat presents this feature film about a widow struggling with loneliness and family obligations towards a blind sister-in-law and the need for her to move on with her own life especially when she meets a mysterious young man who saves her from drowning. Nimra Bucha who features in the current is likely to at the London screening. ‘Kamli’ star Saba Qamar, and Sania Saeed as well.

Friday, May 5 – 6pm Glasgow see
Gmac Film, 103 Trongate Glasgow G1 5HD

Saturday, May 6 6pm London
Rich Mix35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
More info/tickets:

Saturday, May 13 6pm – Phoenix Cinema and Art Centre, Phoenix Square 4 Midland St, Leicester LE1 1TG.

Trans Kashmir

Trans Kashmir

At one point valued and respected members of the community and part of the royal courts in the region, the transgender women of Kashmir face a very different situation today. In this documentary, their situation is examined as they battle for equal rights and respect. A powerful panel will react to the film and their plight. Asifa Lahore (drag queen), club legend DJ Ritu and moderated by Raga Olga D’Silva, a well-known LGBT activist and speaker.

Sunday, May 7 – 6pm Rich Mix, London (see address above)

More info/tickets:

Alankrita Shrivastava: A director’s masterclass

Alankrita Shrivastava

Acclaimed writer, director and showrunner talks about her craft, putting women front, centre and back in her films and the evolving landscape of Indian film and TV series making. As well as her hit ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, she has also made ‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte’ (2020) and the internationally popular ‘Made in Heaven’ and ‘Bombay Begums’.

Friday, May 12 Phoenix – Leicester 6pm (see address above)

More info/tickets:

Samir Bhamra by Hitz Rao
Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry

Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry, co-founder and director of UKAFF said: “The festival has opened doors to thousands by providing a platform to showcase and promote South Asian talent globally. This year UKAFF will showcase the best films and give you the opportunity to mingle with well-known actors, directors and music artists. We look forward to seeing you there!”

Samir Bhamra, artistic director of UKAFF said: “I’m ecstatic! What an honour to have been part of the Tongues on Fire UK Asian Film Festival journey! I started as a volunteer for the festival in 2002 and was moved by the astonishing drive and ambition of the founders, Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry and Harvinder Nath. They spearheaded an incredible film festival against all the odds to screen powerful South Asian stories to transform our communities.”

See the whole programme:

Nathalia Syam talks to ACV about her film, ‘Footprints on Water

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture