The Blind Rabbit is a fascinating critique of power, uncovering its workings by laying bare its machinery. It shows that much like history, power repeats itself.
Pallavi Paul’s The Blind Rabbit — a harrowing documentary mapping the oppressive nature of power in India — opens with an image of nothingness. The camera keeps moving forward creating an illusion of an impending destination. There is nothing in sight. The visuals are supplemented by Kedarnath Singh’s poem Bagh, which encloses the collective awe of people caused by a tiger.
That no one has seen the animal in full hardly dents its appeal. People are taken by its grandeur, seduced by its monstrosity. This is a curious arrangement but not entirely unfounded. During the course of the documentary, Pallavi argues that the animal — authoritative despite its invisibility — is a stand-in for power by proposing that the texture of both their allures is similar: created and sustained by terror.
If the violence of history is monopolised by oppressors, then the history of violence is revealed through the oppressed. In her latest work, Pallavi shifts this vantage point by revisiting decades-long instances of brutality — the Emergency (1975-1977), the 1984 riots, and the ghastly attack on the students of Jamia Milia Islamia University by Delhi Police in 2019 — through the perspectives of those who were agents of it: the officials involved. She speaks truth to power by excavating truth in power.