UK Asian Film Festival – the world’s longest running South Asian film festival outside the Subcontinent – announced the winners of its coveted Tongues on Fire Flame Awards at the Closing Gala Ceremony of its 26th edition, on Sunday 12 May at Kiln Theatre, London. UK Asian Film Festival has historically championed South Asian female-centric cinema and women in film – both behind and in front of the camera.  Its mission is to advocate and promote gender equality in cinema and its annual awards presentation further seeks to celebrate the achievements of women in cinema.

Shabana Azmi, winner of Tongues on Fire Golden Flame Award

The Closing Gala welcomed luminaries from Indian cinema in conversation onstage: celebrated playback and classical singer, Kavita Krishnamurthy, who was felicitated with the Lifetime Achievement Award; and veteran actress, Shabana Azmi, who was presented with the award for Celebrating 50 Years in Cinema. As part of the festival’s celebrations to mark her 50 years in industry, Shabana was also honoured with the Freedom of the City of London Award by the City of London Corporation on Friday 10 May, in recognition of her prolific contribution to Indian cinema and as a campaigner for women’s rights.

Aligned to this year’s “Climate of Change’ festival theme, heritage Indian designer, Rina Dhaka, received the award for Celebrating Sustainable Fashion at the festival’s Closing Gala, as she discussed her environmentally-friendly collections and illustrious career trajectory over the years. Additional guests in attendance included actors, Arjun Mathur, Neil Bhoopalam, Anshuman Jha and Naveen Chowdhry; actresses, Supriya Pathak Kapur, Priya Kansara, Shaheen Khan and Shobu Kapoor; filmmakers, Rumana Molla, Anya Raza, Aisha Linnea, Sridhar Rangayan, Waheed Iqbal and Riad Arfin; comedian, Paul Chowdhry; host and RJ, Noreen Khan; and presenter, Sonali Shah.

Full award-winners’ list:

Tongues on Fire, Golden Flame Lifetime Achievement Award: Kavita Krishnamurthy
Tongues on Fire, Golden Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Kavita Krishnamurthy
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Celebrating Sustainable Fashion: Rina Dhaka
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Best Supporting Actor: Saba Azad for Minimum
Tongues on Fire, Golden Flame Award Best Actor: Supriya Pathak for Baby Crasto
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Best Actor: Arjun Mathur for Lord Curzon Ki Haveli
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Best Film: Gunjal
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Film Wallah’s Choice Award: 12 Fail
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Emerging Curators Choice Award: Blue Sunshine
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Best Short Film: A Border Between Us
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Best Documentary: Brand Bollywood Down Under
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Best Long Short: Man To Man
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Best Debut Director: Rumana Molla for Minimum
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Best Director: Anshuman Jha for Lord Curzon Ki Haveli
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Best Long Shorts Director: Anya Raza and Aisha Linnea Akhtar for How She Moves
Tongues on Fire, Flame Award Celebrating “Climate of Change” theme: Priya Shakti
Tongues on Fire, Golden Flame Award Celebrating 50 years of in Cinema: Shabana Azmi

UK Asian Film Festival annually hosts an eclectic mix of films; a thought-provoking lecture series; audience workshops; live performances; visual arts exhibitions; masterclasses; and the annual Short Film Competition.  It celebrates the very best in films with a link to South Asia and the myriad dimensions of South Asian arts and culture.  This year’s “Climate of Change” theme reflected the sense that the air is shifting in our society; that we are ready to move on from the experiences of the recent past. Cinema is a tool for change as it brings people closer together; sparks conversations; amplifies voices; and builds empathy.

The theme for next year’s festival was also announced at the Closing Gala “Longing and Belonging”. As explained by UKAFF Creative Director, Samir Bhamra, in its simplest definition, it could be the opportunity to explore the human longing for connection and acceptance, focusing on sub topics like nostalgia, home and identity. It can delve into the complexity of unbalanced relationships and unfulfilled desires, draw parallels between human emotions as they experience migration, displacement, or how we react to evolving cultures and heritage, new beginnings and the urgent need for environmental conservation.

UK Asian Film Festival is presented by Tongues on Fire and is supported by the BFI, awarding funds from the BFI Audience Projects Fund. UK Asian Film Festival was powered by broadcast partners, SONY TV and Lyca Radio.

TV Partner for UKAFF Short Film Competition was Shorts TV.

UK Asian Film Festival Founder and Director, Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry MBE said, “As we approach the closing evening of the UK Asian Film Festival, celebrating diverse films, events and incredible talent, I’m profoundly touched by the overwhelming interest and support received this year. Notably, our initiatives like ‘Creative Minds of Tomorrow’ at the British Film Institute have resonated with new audiences, especially the young British Asians. Through fostering co-productions and engaging industry experts, we’ve forged a unity within the artistic community.

UKAFF is championing diverse cultural narratives to embrace diversity, inclusion and perseverance, to spark change and foster an innovative climate.”

Speaking about the theme for next year’s festival, UK Asian Film Festival Creative Director, Samir Bhamra said, “With technology we are connected better but have become more fragmented, so we hope to find films and programme events that will celebrate the ideas and bonds that unite us, transcending borders and barriers to embrace our shared humanity, champion diversity and empower emerging talents, ensuring that more voices from the United Kingdom are heard and celebrated alongside visionaries from all corners of the globe for UKAFF 2025.”

Miyrah Mistry, Head of Marketing for Sony Pictures Networks Europe said, “This year UKAFF had amazing film screenings, live events and in conversations with celebrities like Shabana Azmi and Supriya Pathak. It has been another great year to be part of the UK Asian Film Festival again, celebrating South Asian talent globally.”

Raj Baddhan, CEO of Lyca Media said, “We’re immensely proud of our continued relationship as the exclusive radio partner of the biggest Asian film festival in the UK. What an incredible year it’s been at the festival once again, showcasing the best of independent and innovative cinema from the Subcontinent that particularly champions female-led cinema. It’s been a joy bringing our listeners all of the festival highlights, from the glitz of the Opening and Closing Gala Red Carpets to talent interviews and live updates throughout the festival.”