Pippa Star Cast/ Actors: Ishaan Khatter as Captain Balram Singh Mehta, Mrunal Thakur as Radha Mehta, Priyanshu Painyuli as Major Ram Mehta And Soni Razdan as Mrs Mehta.
Pippa Director: Raja Krishna Menon
Pippa Release Date: November 10, 2023
Pippa Available On: Amazon Prime Video
Pippa Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi
Pippa OTT Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Pippa Runtime: 139 minutes
Pippa Critic Review:
Director Raja Krishna Menon who helmed a rather heartening Airlift (2016), sets out with ambition. The production is large scale as war movies need to be, and one has heard that Raja promised himself he wouldn’t have chest-thumping jingoism in his film. Well, jingoism of the variety he disses isn’t possible when the story is about the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. It isn’t exactly a Jai Hind moment fought for India against her enemies.
In any case, resisting jingoism is hardly a talking point. It should be more about how exciting and watchable the narration is without jingoism.
Drawing from the book The Burning Chaffees, it tells the story of young Captain Balram Singh Mehta (Ishaan Khatter) who leads the charge of the Pippas (an amphibious tank) in the Battle of Garibpur which played its part in India winning the 1971 war. It led to the birth of Bengali-speaking Bangladesh as an independent country free from the atrocities of the Urdu-spouting dispensation that ruled from the west.
Interesting is that three siblings, Balram or Ballie to colleagues and family, older brother Ram (Priyanshu Painyuli), a war hero, and sister Radha (Mrunal Thakur) are all involved in the 1971 war. It’s a unique track that could have been the main focus of the story. Radha’s flair for cryptography is also brought in with a touch of amusement.
However, Tanmay Mohan and Ravinder Randhawa who co-write with Menon, make it about the growing up of Captain Balram which is as big a cliché as potholes during Mumbai’s monsoons. Pulled up for indiscipline in the army and by family members for misbehaviour with guests, it’s aggro without reason. Right from the first sequence where he defies orders to take his Pippa into deeper waters to making house guests squirm and turning every line from Ram into verbal unpleasantness, Ballie’s unnecessary brushes with authority are neither endearing nor unique.
The 1971 war which India fought to liberate Bangladesh from Pakistan saw “the birth of a nation and my rebirth,” says Balram’s introductory voiceover. The taming of a rebel without a cause is a story we’ve seen without a pause, the character arc predictable and lacking in originality.
So wade through the anxieties of a war widow (Soni Razdan) whose sole contribution is her worry for two sons who are at the border.
When Balram dances at the army mess, it looks forced. Like you’ve got to showcase the dance moves of this Shiamak Davar-trained actor. And yeah, we get the picture. Ballie’s a fun guy, a nice guy, underneath the defiance.
The war scenes are long and don’t have the nail-biting moments needed to keep the viewer engaged. Even when the brothers meet and bond, it’s so expected that it’s a drag.
Menon also uses the ancient technique of using background songs to keep moving. When the three siblings are doing their bit for the war, when Bangla refugees are attacked and rescued, when the tanks push forward… There’s so little to add to the story that background songs accompany all these visuals.
Like Chak De! India and Jawan, a monologue to boost the morale of the troops is delivered by Balram which, apart from being yet another cliché, comes off like a student imitating his professor.
There is a weak attempt at a war cry and Menon uses ‘Veer Bhogya Vasundhara, the brave shall inherit the earth’, a chant of the Rajputana Rifles. But it falls flat without energy, like the writers decided, we must have a war cry, never mind if it fits in or not.
Understanding Pippa who floats like ghee ka dabba is a good takeaway from the film.
The Mukti Bahini joining hands with India, the US’ formidable 7th Fleet backing off looking at how inevitable it was for the map of Pakistan to change forever, and the surrender of the Pak army are all faithfully documented. Unfortunately, without animation and adrenaline flow.
While Ishaan Khatter tries his best, it’s Priyanshu Painyuli who impresses and Kamal Sadanah is a surprise as Sam Manekshaw.
AR Rahman’s music doesn’t throw up any chartbusters.
The film ends with the thought, ‘Sometimes to not fight is not an option’. True. Wish we could say that to those who didn’t fight back after the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai.
Pippa – Watch Or Not?: The producers opting to release it on OTT was a wise business decision for you have the option to switch off when your eyelids start dropping.
Pippa Review Score Rating: 2 out of 5 (i.e. 2/5)
Pippa Official Trailer: