OUR TEAM

Board Members

founder & Festival Director
Dr. Pushpinder Chowdhry MBE

A trained Psychotherapist, Pushpinder has dedicated over 38 years of her life, to assisting the neediest members of the community whilst educating authorities to their predicament. Seeing the positive impact films have with mental health and well-being, specifically that many films highlight certain social issues that trigger thought provoking discussions, she co-founded the not for profit organisation Tongues on Fire Ltd (TOF) which organises the annual UK Asian Film Festival (UKAFF). Over the years Pushpinder has received awards including: Women Make Change contribution to Arts and Creative industries Award by Arab British Chamber of Commerce; Queen Mary University Community Engagement Award for Memories through cinema project; Services to South Asian Cinema by Punjabi Circle International; Melvin Jones Award for dedicated humanitarian service presented by Stanmore Lions Club and Contribution to Indian cinema Award presented by Indian Link International. In November 2018 Pushpinder received a MBE for her services to the Community and Arts Industry. Pushpinder is a published author of “Women if Substance,” 1997. Pushpinder is a trustee at DAWN, Diwa Asian Women’s Network and committee member of Asian Circle NGO. She is a current member of BAFTA and the British Film Institute.

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Creative director
Samir Bhamra

Samir Bhamra is the Creative Director of the UK Asian Film Festival, the ArtisticDirector of Phizzical and the 2021 Senior Producer at Belgrade Theatre. His award winning artistic and film work has been enjoyed globally and he is regarded as being one half of the Top 5 Asian Power Couples in the Arts in 2020.  

Operations Director
Saba Syed

Saba has been involved with the festival for over 10 years, starting as festival coordinator and now Operations Director having managed the administration and operations of the organisation, volunteer recruitment, internships, PR services, sponsorship and relationships with the third sector. Saba has overseen the strategic growth of the organisation, introducing tailored event management to the high profile annual festival with screenings and events across the city, liaising with film makers, distributors, venues and film talent. Plus she is one of the two producers of the UK Heritage Lottery-funded documentary Movies, Memories, Magic. Saba’s main work is now in the heritage sector, working at the British Library in digitisation. Outside of work she is involved with community archiving projects, working as a parent governor at Nower Hill High School, and is the treasurer (and a founder) of the Friends of Headstone Manor Park.

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Chairperson
Rakhee Joshi

Rakhee Joshi is Chair of the UKAFF’s Advisory Board and a self-proclaimed “film buff”.  Rakhee has a deep-rooted passion for independent, South Asian film and the arts, with a particular interest in women’s issues and mental health.  Rakhee has supported the UKAFF for a number of years; absorbing herself in the world of film, feeding-in to the team’s programming efforts, talent introductions and volunteering.  Separately, Rakhee is a practicing solicitor in England and Wales and has spent over a decade advising firms on a broad range of commercial matters.

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Dr. Alina Mirza

Dr Alina Mirza has an interest in the arts and film, especially their role in the rehabilitation process with respect to mental health and general well-being. She has been with the UKAFF team since 2017 and coordinates the UKAFF Scotland Tour. As well as being an award-winning artistic director, she also is a public health specialist. She received a Health Education Board for Scotland Fellowship in 1995 and completed her Masters in Public Health from the University of Glasgow in 1997. She also completed training in production with BBC Scotland in 2004. She has extensive experience in women’s health and mental health, having worked with the WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Research and Training, Rawalpindi General Hospital, Pakistan and chaired the Black and Ethnic Minority Women's Health Group Glasgow, Healthy Cities Partnership, UK.
Alina has pioneered links between artistic and educational institutions in the UK and Pakistan, and other Commonwealth countries. She was awarded the prestigious British Muslim House of Lords Award for Art and Culture in 2009. In 2007, she was shortlisted for the UK Asian Women of Achievement Awards, Arts and Culture.

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Dr. Ashvin Immanuel Devasundaram

Dr Ashvin Immanuel Devasundaram is Senior Lecturer in World Cinema at Queen Mary University of London. He is author of India's New Independent Cinema: Rise of the Hybrid (Routledge, 2016) and Indian Cinema Beyond Bollywood: The New Independent Cinema Revolution (Routledge, 2018) - the world's first book and edited anthology on new Indian Indie films. Ashvin is Associate Director of the UK Asian Film Festival – London and has directed the UK Heritage Lottery-funded documentary Movies, Memories, Magic (2018).

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Dr. Monia Acciari

Dr Monia Acciari completed her doctoral research at the University of Manchester with an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project entitled “Indo-Italian screens and the Aesthetic of Emotions.” Her principal research interests lie in the areas of film and cultural studies. Her areas of research are: film festivals, curatorship, new-wave Indian cinema (Transnational Marathi cinema), Bollywood, South Asian diasporic cinema, film archives and Indian collections, dubbing and subtitling. Additionally, film restoration, preservation and cultural theory. Since 2017, she is co-director of the UK Asian Film festival in Leicester and director of the Indian Cinema Archive at De Montfort University. She has led international research projects on Bollywood dubbing and subtitling, film archives and currently writing her monograph on Indian film festivals.

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Suniya Qureshi

Suniya Qureshi has been a Senior Strategy Adviser at the International Unit G20 of the Department for Work Pensions and worked across UK government departments on social protection and human rights, international labour markets, and employment strategies in some of the UK's most deprived wards. She ran the British Pakistan Foundation as Executive Director for two years whilst on a sabbatical from the civil service. Creating a formidable platform for the British Pakistani Diaspora. Suniya has also written and produced six theatrical plays and is currently working on her seventh venture under Ludoo Productions.com. She has additionally consulted for Oxfam and Southbank Alchemy, on cultural and community fundraising and engagement and brokering Pakistan content respectively.

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Jaanuja Sriskantha

Jaanuja is a marketing professional who's passionate about the arts, with experience in film, theatre and the heritage industry. She joined Tongues on Fire in 2014 as Festival Coordinator and spearheaded the growth and development of the UK Asian Film Festival nationwide. She now works as Marketing and Events Manager for the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

Saz Vora

Saz Vora was born in East Africa and migrated with her family to England in the ‘60’s to Coventry, West Midlands, where she grew up straddling British and Gujarati Indian culture. Her debut duet My Heart Sings Your Song and Where Have We Come is a story in two parts about love, loss and family, the second book in the series is based on true events that has shaped her outlook on life’s trials and tribulations. Saz has previously had a successful career in Television Production and Teaching but her need to write stories has led to what she is doing now – writing stories about people like her in multi-cultural Britain.
Saz manages UKAFF’s short film competition and has mentored emerging talent and digital commissions in 2019/2020. She is a founding member of the Asian Circle, an affiliate of The Circle, an NGO set-up by Annie Lennox.

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Vikas Dhir

Vikas has over 14 years of brand marketing experience in multinational and multicultural environments having held executive positions across Non Profit, Tech, Insurance and Luxury sectors. During his career, he has built a reputation for marketing excellence, innovative strategic thinking, working with the highest level of integrity and a deep and passionate commitment towards his work. Today, he resides in New Delhi, India.

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Vandana Dass

Vandana Dass is a Senior Solicitor and Managing Director of Davenport Solicitors Limited, a HR, Employment and Corporate Immigration law firm. She is responsible for implementing company policy, planning the growth of the Company, overseeing all client work, managing communications and representing the Company at various events. She was named the Winner of the "Rising Star in Law" category at the London Asian Business Awards, “Entrepreneur of the Year” category at the British Indian awards and a finalist in the “Woman in Law” category at the Asian Legal Awards. She regularly presents seminars and webinars on what really concerns businesses and HR professionals and has lectured students and HR professionals at South Bank University and The Open University. She is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association, the European Employment Lawyers Association and a Committee member of the Asian Business Association.

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Sana Soni

Sana Soni is an independent film sales and distribution executive in Washington, DC, originally from Budapest and New Delhi. She has an extensive background in film and TV sales from multiple studios and independents in both Los Angeles and London, including Discovery, Warner Bros, NBC Universal, Signature Entertainment, National Geographic, and Walden Media. A UCLA and New York Film Academy graduate, she brings market expertise to features and series in development or those looking for distribution. She’s spoken at DC Independent Film Festival and Raindance Film Festival, judged for the Brooklyn Film Festival, and is also on the advisory board for Film Hub Wales.

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Saima Khan

Saima Khan is currently the Executive Director at Shahid Afridi Foundation UK, managing all of the charity’s affair where she has served for almost five years. Saima is an HR professional by background, being CIPD qualified, and holding both her MSc and BSc degrees from The London School of Economics. Saima has held a City based career background having worked at J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs & Accenture, before moving onto the public sector and now into philanthropy. Saima is an avid cricket supporter and has a keen interest in all things Desi!

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Nick Virk

Nick Virk is a Producer for Tate, creating films and content for their digital platforms. Nick has a passion for Hindi cinema and operates as a freelance filmmaker. Nick is also a trustee for Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons Trust.

Payal Seth

Payal Seth is a Former Filmmaker, Entertainment PR and Marketing specialist, currently working with TikTok. Payal’s journey in the industry began with our festival as an intern in 2013. After seven years in the industry, she is excited to be back as part of the team and on the UKAFF advisory Board. Payal feels the UK Asian Film Festival has been a torchbearer with regards to bringing Indian perspectives to a wider audience through its events, and giving young and upcoming talent a platform to showcase their talent.  The opportunity to watch films from across the world, and be exposed to such unique talent gives her great happiness, and she is delighted to be part of such a hardworking and enthusiastic team.

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Staff

Festival & Projects Manager
Aman Dhillon

Aman Dhillon is the festival and projects manager at Tongues on Fire and the UK Asian Film Festival. Wearing many hats, she has developed the Tongues on Fire year-round programme and has strengthened our festival activity. She is a law graduate with an interest in South Asian film, photography, writing, arts and culture. Aman is an avid traveller having spent 7 months travelling the world, is a published article and blog writer, a school governor, a member of her local Rotary Club and supports a number of charitable organisations. Since 2019 she has been organising South Asian arts events and advising on diversity and South Asian inclusion in her local area.

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Suchin Mehrotra

Suchin Mehrotra is a festival programmer, film journalist and Indian cinema junkie who sincerely believes that movies can change the world. Previously a Programme Coordinator at the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, he currently writes and reviews for Film Companion where he also hosts the Streaming With Suchin show.

Hardish Matharu

Hardish is the Communications Designer & Marketing Executive at Tongues on Fire and the UK Asian Film Festival. She has always had an interest in films from a young age and writes screenplays in her spare time. She is also passionate about photography and all things creative.

Behzad Ahmad

Behzad takes care of the website and a range of digital elements for Tongues on Fire. His creative approach is balanced with technical skills to deliver effective communications online.

Public Relations

We work with Media House Global directors Tony Gill and Arika Murtza who deliver the best press coverage and reach for our festival.

For press enquiries please contact info@tonguesonfire.com

Please see our archive of Press Coverage here.

Patrons

ACTOR
Abhishek Bachchan
academic
Prof. Rachel Dwyer
POLITICIAN
Lord Diljit Singh Rana
ACTRESS & WRITER
Meera Syal CBE
FILM DIRECTOR
Sabiha Sumar
POET & SINGER
Minu Bakshi
Sunita Sangar

OUR TEAM