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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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 is the Director of the Short Film Competition at the UK Asian Film Festival, 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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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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Dr. Mayukh Gayen

Dr Mayukh Gayen is a qualified actuary and a chartered enterprise risk manager, he is currently working as a quantitative modeller in the financial district of the city of London. Alongside that, he is also a certified mental health first aider and a champion of climate change related risks and awareness. He is a trained Hindustani classical singer with a soft spot for Bollywood music. He strongly believes film is a mode where all these dimensions can come together and have the power and reach to make a difference in people’s lives and society.

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Rita Soni

They say when you follow your passion you achieve great things. That may be true. I absolutely adore cinema and have followed the festival at the UK Asian Film Festival for many years so when they asked me to join them, I was thrilled. As a trustee of a charity that has worked alongside the festival, I have experienced first-hand their expertise in the field.

Now as a board member I look forward to working with an amazing team and to get more involved with getting our message out to a wider audience. I am really happy that with the team we can help create a younger audience to love South East Asian cinema as much as we do.

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Dr. J. Daniel Luther

Dr. J. Daniel Luther is Associate Programme Director at The Rhodes Trust, University of Oxford. They are the co-founder of 'Queer' Asia and co-edited 'Queer' Asia: Decolonising and Reimagining Sexuality and Gender (Zed, 2019). Their research is centered on Gender, Sexuality, and Queerness in South Asia and South East Asia and includes publications on Bollywood, Queer Film Festivals in the Global South, and Queer Theory. Their forthcoming monograph is titled Queering Normativity and South Asian Public Culture: Wrong Readings Only (Palgrave, 2023).

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Amit KaUR

Amit Kaur is a filmmaker bringing over a decade of experience across formats from India’s earliest web series to critically acclaimed international films and commercials. Her interdisciplinary work includes Arts Council funded documentaries on underrepresented communities. A champion of inclusion, Amit co-founded ARInclusive, a creative studio promoting diversity in entertainment. As a UK Asian Film Festival board member, she lends her expertise and passion for diverse storytelling.

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Staff

Festival & Projects Manager
Dr. Toyeba Mushtaq

Dr. Toyeba Mushtaq is the Project Manager at Tongues on Fire Limited - UKAFF. She had lived in India, US, and is currently based in London, UK. She has done her PhD in film studies with special focus on Indian celluloid and LGBTQIA+ community. A Gold Medalist and being awarded ‘Student of the Year’, she has published more than a dozen research papers in national and international journals. Toyeba has also extensively researched the impact of television on sub urban India as well as unearthed the sexual exploitation of women in health care. An expert documentary maker, she has shot on some important aspects on Indian society like environment, women empowerment, and travel. Toyeba has also worked with leading Indian newspapers and is a published author. Toyeba is an avid reader, loves to travel, and is a film buff!

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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
Author & Academic
Prof. Dinesh BhUgra
Filmmaker & Screenwriter
Alankrita Shrivastava

OUR TEAM