Saturday, December 29, 2007

Machang, who spent 54 years in jail without trial, dies

Machang Lalung (second right) seen with Assamese cine artist Indra Bania, and Aneisha Sharma, director of the short film “Freedom At The Edge,” during its first screening in Guwahati in this file photo.
Special Correspondent Guwahati: Machang Lalung, who spent 54 years in prison without trial, died at his ancestral residence at Silchang in Morigaon district on Tuesday night following a brief illness. He was 79.
He was released in July 2005 on the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) from the LGB Regional Institute of Mental Health at Tezpur.
It was NHRC Special Rapporteur Chaman Lal who brought the shocking neglect of five undertrial prisoners, including Machang, at the hospital to the notice of commission.
NHRC found that Machang, who was only 23 when he was arrested in 1951 from his native village, was never produced in a court though he was declared fit to stand trial after August 9, 1967. He remained an undertrial prisoner in a case under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code. The NHRC ordered the Assam government to release him immediately.
Later the Supreme Court took a suo motu case and ordered the State government to pay Machang a compensation of Rs.3 lakh and Rs.1,000 every month for life.
Medical and Health Officer, Nellie State Dispensary, Jayanta Kumar Nath told The Hindu that Machang died of “geriatric ailment.”
The funeral was attended, among others, by Guwahati-based filmmaker Aneisha Sharma whose 27-minute film “Freedom at the edge” on Machang’s confinement bagged an award at the Boston International Film Festival this year.
Machang saw the film when it was screened in Guwahati on June 29 this year. He was seated in the front row next to the then Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup (Metropolitan), H.K. Sarma, who ordered his release on a token personal bond of Re. 1.

Friday, December 28, 2007

He lost 54 years of life in jail- and dies two years after his release

Samudra Gupta Kashyap
Posted online: Thursday, December 27, 2007
Silchang (Assam), December 26: For 54 years, he remained behind bars despite no specific charges, forgotten by the law and everyone else, as reported first by The Indian Express. Till he was released on bail in July 2005, following the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). But his freedom was short-lived, as Machang Lalung, 80, died last night.

“Lalung was suffering from various old-age ailments for the past few months. Last week, he was taken to Guwahati Medical College Hospital after he suffered a fracture in his right leg following a fall in his house,” said Dr Jayanta Kumar Nath, medical officer at the Nellie State Dispensary. Lalung died at his ancestral house in Silchang at around 10:30 pm.
Lalung, a tribal from Silchang in Morigaon district of central Assam, was 23 when he went missing. His family thought he had been whisked away by some evil spirit. The only available record in Guwahati Jail says he was booked under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code. The section pertains to a non-bailable offence for “voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means”. If found guilty, the maximum penalty under this provision is 10 years in prison.
But Lalung was never produced before a magistrate, nor did his case come up for any kind of hearing in the five-and-a-half decades that he remained in custody as an undertrial prisoner. Within weeks of his detention, he was sent to the Gopinath Bardoloi Mental Hospital at Tezpur. And despite repeated letters from the hospital authorities saying that Lalung had recovered and was fit to be taken back, the jail authorities did not respond.
It was only in July 2005 that he was finally released, on a bail for Re 1. The Indian Express report on the case prompted a PIL, following which the Supreme Court directed the Assam government to pay Lalung an interim compensation of Rs 3 lakh apart from a monthly subsistence allowance of Rs 1000. The state government was also directed to arrange regular medical check-up and free treatment for him.
“When we first heard that our granduncle was still alive, we simply could not believe it. When we were children, our grandmother used to tell us about her brother who went missing long ago,” said Sombar Pator, who lit the funeral pyre at the village cremation ground this afternoon.
“It was a strange life that our system forced upon this innocent man,” remarked Aneisha Sharma, whose 23-minute film Freedom at the Edge on Lalung earned accolades at the prestigious Boston International Film Festival earlier this year.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Machang Lalung passes away

Machang Lalung passes awayFrom Our Correspondent MORIGAON, Dec 26 – Machang Lalung, an undertrial prisoner for life who had been released two years back on bail after languishing for nearly 60 years in jail, died last night at his residence at Nellie. He was 80. The tragedy of Machang epitomizes the inherent defects in the country’s judicial system, as Machang was made a prisoner without any trial for a petty offence. Ironically, when he was finally freed in 2005 following an intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), his freedom was on bail only. In a sense, he never experienced true freedom before death ultimately cleared him of his bondage. Machang was sent to the jail in 1946 when he was still in his teens, and he never knew what his offence. All the written documents relating to his case were lost and the person stayed in jail without trial up to 2005. An award-winning documentary, "Freedom at the Edge", was also made on his life by Aenisha Sharma.
"The Assam Tribune" 26th Dec 2007


Newspaper:-The Dainik Janambhumi,Guwahati 15 Dec,2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tasting success

Tasting success
It seems some young Assamese filmmakers are making their mark in the
national and global movie scene in recent times. After tasting success
at the recent Boston film festival, Aneisha Sharma’s Film Freedom at
the Edge is creating ripples worldwide. Based on the story of an innocent 23-year-old Masang Lalung, who was
picked up for no apparent reason and put behind bars before being
released as a frail old man, has touched the hearts of many worldwide.
The story also got rave reviews in all the festivals. Aneisha is now even more happy as the Mumbai International Film
Festival 2008 (February 3 to 9) has selected Freedom at the Edge for
the film and video competition (Indian) section of the festival. This
is the only entry to have been confirmed till now from the Northeast.
It will be good if one or two more films get into the competitive
section from the Northeast in the MIFF. Whatever it is, let’s hope Aneisha’s film Freedom at the Edge succeeds
in showing the international audience the bizarre situation prevailing
in Assam at that time or somewhere even now also! And those blatant
human rights abuses of innocent people by our own armymen are more
heinous for a democratic country like India. Will anyone make a film on
those abuses?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

For the viewers

Thanks for all visitors for viewing my blog.Thanks for your comments. So far the students out side of NE region,would like to see my film,can come and see my film at Mumbai International film festival from 3rd feb. to 9th feb.2008. Date of screening can be get from festival web site.

My next feature film will start from the next year also based on true story.

Thanks for your well wishes.



My film FREEDOM AT THE EDGE selected for Film & Video Competition (Indian) Section
10th Mumbai International Film Festival,
Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India &

Friday, July 13, 2007

"A life in SHACKLES"- The Assam Tribune

"A life in SHACKLES"- By Neelakash Baro ,The Assam Tribune,13/07/07

"A life in SHACKLES"-Neelakash Baro

Movie buffs of the state have a good reason to rejoice – Guwahati-based filmmaker Aneisha Sharma’s docu-feature Freedom at the Edge has won the Cladie Special Best Documentary Award recently. Back home too, at a screening at Rabindra Bhavan recently, the film has received rave reviews from both the masses and the critics. That is not all. The film is gearing up for its next trip to various film festivals around the world. This is indeed good news for Assamese cinema which is on the verge of extinction. Though it is unlikely that the film will have an impact on the moribund film industry, still the awards and accolades the film has won will encourage the filmmakers of the state to make more meaningful films in future. Now that may not be a big deal for all, considering the fact that a good number of Assamese films have earned accolades and won awards before. But what sets this film apart is that it is based on a tragic true story that every movie buff should be aware of. A film that everyone should watch for the sheer reason that it has different messages to convey. That apart, Freedom at the Edge is a well-made film. What is the story about? The film is based on the story of a tribal youth named Machang Lalung, a man who had to spend 54 long years in jail despite being innocent. Machang Lalung, a tribal youth hailing from middle Assam, was arrested by the police for a minor offence in 1951. At that time, he was 23 years old. He had no clue as to why he was arrested. He was taken to jail. After spending a few months in prison, he developed epilepsy disease. To his misfortune, the jail authorities mistook him to be a mental patient and that is how his journey to ‘hell’ began. After 54 long agonising years, Lalung was detected by the National Human Rights Commission, which ordered the government to release him at the earliest. The Human Rights Commission’s initiative eventually caused the release of Lalung. He was 77 when he finally tasted freedom. The tragedy of the man is that he had to spend the best part of his life in illegal detention, the years that he can never get back. The media reports on Lalung pulled the heartstrings of Aneisha Sharma, who has a nose for good storylines. She was hell-bent on making a movie on him. That was exactly what she did and thus an award-winning film came into being. Freedom at the Edge has managed to strike a chord with the audience simply because it deals with the message that at any part of the world, at any time, life is unguarded. Besides, Sharma has captured the emotion and tragedy of a man who must be struggling hard to come to terms with the fact that the maze of red tape and Indian law has taken a heavy toll on him. If the realisation is finally dawning on him, he must be a bitter man. He must be angry with his destiny for leading him to prison for no fault of his and making freedom an alien concept for him. The power of the film lies in its performance and the script. Coming to the latter, Aneisha says, “Whoever went through the script, they declared there and then – the film is going to win an award. Period.” Aneisha Sharma was determined to rope in Indra Bania to play Machang Lalung’s role as she felt that his facial similarities and acting prowess (Indra Bania has several national and international awards to his credit) made him the most likely candidate to play Lalung. And Bania did not let Aneisha down. He played his role to perfection. No wonder then, the film is very powerful in the acting front. The other actors too did justice to their respective roles. Aneisha Sharma is a familiar name in the film industry. She has already won a number of national and international awards. She basically makes documentaries on wildlife and other myriad issues. That is probably where she has grown as a seasoned filmmaker. In her bid to make the film a success, Aneisha did not want to compromise on any front. Be it budget, realism or performance, she wanted everything to be perfect. That explains why she imported a quite expensive camera exclusively for the film. And to give a real touch to the film, Aneisha chose to shoot in the same jail and mental hospital where Machang Lalung spent 54 years of captivity. Now that is a rare feat, because Aneisha Sharma was the first film maker to have got an opportunity to shoot in that mental hospital. To get the permission to shoot in the mental hospital was an uphill task. But she did not lose heart as she had her well wishers by her side to encourage her. “My mother, husband, friends and the government helped me a lot in making the film a success,” she said gratefully. Moreover, the native village of Lalung was also a major location of the shooting of the film. On the whole, the film has an universal appeal. In fact, it was this quality that moved the audience as well as the jury members at Boston. “It is a powerful film. It touched my heart,” expressed a jury member. A 70-year-old Chinese lady remarked, “You have made a wonderful movie.” Aneisha Sharma was naturally elated, and admits that the accolades will motivate her to make more films based on subjects close to her heart.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Nitin Pai's View

Monday, July 2, 2007

Justice delayed is justice denied
Some months back there was a heated debate among the various intellectuals regarding judicial activism. The editorial pages of prominent newspapers served as the battleground for a heated and well articulated debate about how judicial activism is violating the Constitution. The debate has died down. But it will resurface as and when the Supreme Court will pass judgments which will put the political parties in a quandary.The citizens of India are increasingly depending on the judiciary to take actions which are the prerogative of the Legislature. This is not liked by our political clan. Also, they do not like the authoritative tone adopted by the Judiciary while pronouncing judgments. Hence the tension.I believe that both have failed the Indian citizens. That the legislature has failed us requires no explanation. The Judiciary through inordinate delays has inflicted great injustice on the people of India. One example will suffice.Machang Lalung was kept in prison for more than five decades without any trial. It was not until the National Human Rights Commission discovered him that he was freed. Justice denied for five decades.As Aneisha Sharma a film maker who made a film on him said "I think silence is his way of expressing himself....... It's full of anguish which is yet to find an expression"My humble request to the Judiciary and the Legislature. Stop debating and start acting before civil unrest takes over in the country.

A lifetime in illegal detention -The Hindu

A lifetime in illegal detention
Sushanta Talukdar
Guwahati: There was a shiver of emotion in the air-conditioned auditorium here as 79-year-old Machang Lalung was helped up the steps by relatives. The tribal was there on Thursday evening to join viewers of “Freedom at the Edge,” a short film, which documented his confinement for 54 years in prison without trial.
Many sobbed after watching the film, which bagged an award at the recent Boston International Film Festival. The 27-minute documentary by the Guwahati-based film-maker, Aneisha Sharma, was among the 100 films selected from 1,650 entries. Machang, in the traditional attire of the Tiwas, a tribe of Central Assam’s Morigaon district, was seated next to the then Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup (Metropolitan), H.K. Sarma, who ordered his release on a token personal bond of Re. 1 in July last.
To his right was Indra Bania, Assamese actor, who played the lead role of Lalung in the film. Bania, who bagged the best actor award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 1988 for his lead role in Jahnu Barua’s Halodhiya Ch oraiye Baodhan Khai, was trying to make Machang understand that what was being shown on the screen was a film on him.
Machang’s face was expressionless — he did not seem to comprehend what was going on either in the auditorium or around him.
Ms. Aneisha Sharma did the shooting in the Guwahati central jail and the mental hospital at Tezpur, where Machang was held captive, and in his Silchang village. While Bania described his lead role as “the most touching role being the real-life story of a living person,” an emotional Rajib Kro, who played young Machang, broke down in the midst of a media interaction after the screening.
Machang was only 23 years when he was arrested by the police in 1951 from his village. It was NHRC Special Rapporteur Chaman Lal who brought to the notice of the National Human Rights Commission the shocking neglect of five undertrial prisoners, including Machang, in the mental hospital. The NHRC found that Machang was never produced in court though he was declared fit to stand trial after August 9, 1967 and he had remained an undertrial prisoner in the case under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code. The NHRC ordered the Assam Government to release him immediately. Compensation
Later, the Supreme Court, taking suo motu notice, ordered the State Government to pay Machang a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh and a monthly assistance of Rs. 1,000 for life.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

"56 years later, Lalung sees his story on screen"-The IndianExpress

56 years later, Lalung sees his story on screen

Samudra Gupta KashyapPosted online: Monday, July 02, 2007

GUWAHATI, JULY 1: Fifty-four years in prison and that too without
trial, Machang Lalung has probably realised that words mean little.
Released in July 2005, Lalung, a poor tribal from Silchang in Morigaon
district, was recently at the Boston International Film Festival as the
central character of a film made by Aneisha Sharma, which also won
an award.
Related Stories Assam Chief Minister to take ‘news’ to people before
pollsMeghalaya fell off Rly map in 1897Centre may gift region a power

policy Post-attack, security reviewed in Garo HillsShillong hospital needs

life supportPresent at the screening of the film Freedom at the Edge in Guwahati,
Lalung did not utter a word. Instead he sat silently beside noted
Assamese actor Indra Bania watching the story of his life unfold.
He did not even offer a smile, not even when he was felicitated with
an aronai, a traditional Bodo tribal scarf, at the end of the screening.
“For me, it was really difficult to enact the life of Machang Lalung. I
have never heard of anyone with such misfortune, being dumped in
jail for 54 years without any trial,” said Bania. This was the second
time Bania had played the role of a living person. In 1986, he played
Raseswar Saikia, a wronged farmer in Jahnu Barua’s Halodhiya
Choraiye Bao-dhan Khay.
Machang Lalung was picked up by the police back in 1951 and was
dumped in Guwahati jail. He was shifted to a mental hospital at
Tezpur and the jail authorities lost track of him there. When members
of the National Human Rights Commission discovered him at Tezpur in
2005, Lalung had already lost over five decades of his life. No records
of any case against him have been found till today.
Sharma’s film on Lalung was among the 100 films selected from over
1,600 entries for the Boston Film Festival. “My film got tremendous
response from the viewers,” said Sharma. Speaking about Lalung
Sharma said that even during the shoot at his native village, Lalung
used to just sit in a corner and watch silently.
“I think silence is his way of expressing himself. And at times, when I
tried to interact with him, I realised, the silence was not just
eloquent, but frightening as well. It’s full of anguish which is yet to
find an expression,” Sharma said.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

'Movie Lalung wins accolades in Boston'-The Times Of India

'Movie Lalung wins accolades in Boston'-The Times Of India//June 29, 2007

Interrection with the audience

Interrection with the audience.

Friday, June 29, 2007

With Machang Lalung

With Machang Lalung at Felicition function organized by Director of cultural affairs, Govt of Assam

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

At Boston Film Festival

"Freedom At the Edge" film apreciated by the viewers at Boston and awarded the "INDIE SPEC BEST DOC AWARD' the documentary was largely liked by inteligentia of attended in the festival for good content, production design and powerfull acting The targic matter of Machang was first reported in Indian Express.

Loews Theatres

In front of Loews Theatres

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

promo of my film FREEDOM AT THE EDGE

This short film based on true story of Machang's tragic story "FREEDOM AT THE EDGE" please visit .....

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Telegraph

The Telegraph,24 May 2007

Machang Laung's story on celluloid to premiere atBoston Festival"Film on pain of freedom delayed"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Indian Express

News published on 11 May 2007,Indian Express

Friday, May 18, 2007


Aneisha Sharma started her career in film industry as an child artist and touched peoples heart through her performance and her first film won the Indian National Award in the year 1982 and since then all her four major movies won Indian National Award and her last film 'Baibhav' received best jury award in Dhaka International Film Festival in the year 2000, where she played a central role. From the last 15 years she has been working for conservation of Forest & Wildlife in the North-Eastern States of India.
She produced and directed 30 documentaries on Wild-Life for Indian National Television.She received National Fellowship for visual media in the year 1997 from National Federation of India.


Story of my film
Machang Lalung, a tribal youth(victim of unlawful detention for long 54 years).He hails from middle Assam, a Indian North Eastern State.He was arrested by the police for a silly offence in the year 1951 when he was 23 years age.At the time of arrest he even did not know under what offence he was arrested.Soon after his arrest, he suffered from epilepsy disease.The jail authority mistaken him as a mental patient and shifted him to Tezpur mental hospital.The poor tribal youth had to spent 54 years in mental hospital as an undertrial prisoner without any legal formalities or court hearing. His illegal detention is three times more than any punishment under Indian Law. Finally in a routin checking by the National Human Right Commission's his illegal detention was detected and ordered to government for his early release.And he was released in the year 2005 by the Chief Judicial Megistrate at Guwahati at that time his age was 77 years.

In this film old Machang’s character is played by Indra Baniya, who won the best actor award in Locarno International Film Festival in the year 1988. Young Machang’s Character is played by Rajib Kro. Shooting was carried out in the same jail and mental hospital where Machang spent 54 years of captivity. His native village also a major location of shooting. Other actors who rendered their acting skill are Swapnanil Boruah, Arun Nath, Rupjyoti Bordoloi, Jayanti Pator, Rupam Chetia and Dino Pator.