Unused footages of Irom Sharmila in a highly-secured hospital ward in Manipur have now become part of a documentary on her 11-year-long struggle against AFSPA, revealing her poetic self.
Glimpses of her life under custody and how she kept her fight alive are part of the 17-minute film The Silent Poet, directed by Manipur-based journalist Borun Thokchom.
Footages shot since 2006 in Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, close to her residence in Imphal East, where she is being treated and unused by a news channel where Thokchom worked were compiled for the documentary.
"There were a lot of footages of Sharmila which were unused by the channel I work for. As I had a huge collection, some of which were exclusive, I thought of a film portraying her life inside 'jail' premises," Thokchom told PTI.
He started shooting Sharmila at the hospital-prison in Imphal since 2006.
A lot of films are based on her fight against AFSPA but, Thokchom says his film is different as it lays stress on the poetic side of the 39-year-old activist, who began her hunger strike on November 5, 2000 demanding revoking of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Manipur.
"Rare footages collected for over five years were put together to make the short film on Sharmila," he says.
Asked on how he managed to film her inside the jail, he says, "It is a long procedure. No one can meet her at anytime. Permission has to be sought from the Union home ministry."
The Silent Poet was adjudged the best documentary in the 2nd Siliguri International Short and Documentary Film Festival held recently in Siliguri in West Bengal.
The film talks about the her poems and particularly O! Stranger which mirrors the amalgamation of events happening in Manipur and Northeast.
The film was highly appreciated at its first screening in the 3rd Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace for Irom Sharmila held at Imphal earlier this month.
It has also been sent for screening at the Mumbai International Film Festival, India and the 10th Edition of FIFDH (Geneva), Thokchom says.