Tongues On Fire Film Festival

The Tongues on Fire (TOF) is a film festival dedicated to the spirit of Asian independent media and cinema cultures of South Asia. This year it celebrates with an exciting and varied roster of films and an appearance by Abhishek Bachchan.

The whole festival is a labour of love

The ‘Tongues on Fire’ film festival celebrates South Asian cinema. The festival, running from 5th March to 14th March, starts with an Opening Gala at the Park Lane Sheraton, Piccadilly Circus, London, UK.

The opening ceremony is introduced by British TV and film actors Rizwan Ahmed, also known as Riz MC, and Neerja Naik from the film Life Goes On.

Bollywood actor, Abhishek Bachchan will be there – profiled by BAFTA in a unique interview in conjunction with Tongues on Fire. Also present are Lord Megnad Desai, life peer and London School of Economics academic, and actors Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar.

The ceremony will also feature performances from Botown – Bollywood Meets Soul band and Mona Singh, Princess of Bhangra.

This year the festival features Bollywood films such as Chak De India, Dostana, Guru, Paa and Yuva. Also showcased will be a handful of independent films made by South Asian film directors and producers.

These include:

  • Life Goes On – a bi-lingual English-Bengali film, starring Sharmila Tagore and Soha Ali Khan. It is screening Sunday 14th March 16:00 at Apollo Piccadilly Circus. The film centres around a grieving father and his three daughters. The father gains back a sense of life by rediscovering the modern lives of his three daughters.
  • Cash and Curry – a fast paced Brit-Asian gangster thriller starring Ameet Channa of Eastenders fame and BBC Asian Network fame. It is screening on Saturday 13th March at 14:00, Waterman Cinema. Raj (Ameet Channa) and his friends are errand boys who end up caught in the middle of a turf war between two of London’s biggest warlords. The friends escape and hide out in a farm whilst the gangsters search for them.
  • Well Done Abba – a comedy starring Boman Irani. It is screening on Thursday 11th March at Apollo Piccadilly Circus at 20:30, and Friday 12th March at Watermans Cinema at 18:30. It’s a film about a middle aged driver who takes time off work to search for a husband for his daughter. It is a humorous and poignant picture of Indian village life and corruption in Indian rural politics.
  • Made in Pakistan – a documentary film, directed by Nasir Khan. It questions Pakistan’s definition of terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism. It portrays the story of 4 Pakistanis who breakaway from stereotypical views of Pakistan to achieve progress for their country. It has been described as an “insider’s look into the most dangerous place in the world” by Newsweek magazine.
  • Deshantori – a Bangladeshi film meaning The Migrant. It is the story of 26 young Bangladeshis who decide to take an illegal journey to Spain through the Sahara Desert and Mediterannean Sea. It showcases the plight of illegal immigrants and the risks they take.
  • Playing the Taar – a story of a 17 year old Turkmen girl, belonging to a minority tribe in Afghanistan. Ay Nabaat, the girl, is a carpet weaver, her life intertwined in weaves, carpet strings and colour. Her life is also tied up in customs and traditions. Her father is involved in a bloody ethnic feud between two rival tribes. He marries her daughter off to a man who already has three wives in order to escape the feud.
  • Flowers of the Sky – a Sri Lankan film about Sandhya Rani a fading ageing film star who now lives in obscurity. She makes a living by renting out rooms to today’s stars who use the rooms to conduct private, illicit affairs. When the star’s infidelity is exposed, the “scandal forces Sandhya into the limelight again” and she is forced to come to terms with her own past.

Tongues on Fire is a unique platform for South Asian films. Its patrons include Meera Syal and Dr Rachel Dwyer, author of Cinema India – The Visual Culture of Hindi Film.

Meera Syal says,

“If it wasn’t for TOF, many of the wonderful films they’re showing would not be seen at all.

She adds, “The whole festival is a labour of love for the organisers, so I hope audiences show a little back and go and support this fantastic annual event.”

The festival is also celebrating the career of Jaya Bachchan. The retrospective is being hosted together at the Nehru Centre in London. This will be launched with a UK premiere of Lovesongs: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (2008) – Jaya Bachchan’s latest film with Om Puri. The festival will include screening of several Jaya films – Guddi, Kora Kagaz, Abhimaan and Uphaar. Tongues on Fire have awarded Jaya Bachchan a Lifetime Achievement Award.

There will be a director’s workshop with Shyam Benegal –critically acclaimed director. Shyam Benegal is well known for his quartet of films- Ankur, Nishant, Manthan and Bhumika. His first Bollywood mainstream film was Zubeida starring Karishma Kapoor. More recently he made Welcome to Sajjanpur.

Shyam Benegal will be discussing film techniques on Monday 8th March 10:30 and 14:00 at the University of Westminster. He is also holding a talk on Women in Film in association with the Nehru Centre. This is to celebrate International Women’s Day. Visit for more information.

S Basu wants to explore the place of Indian diaspora in a globalised world in her journalism. She likes being a part of contemporary British Asian culture and celebrates the recent flourishing of interest in it. She has a passion for Bollywood, Art and all things Indian.

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