The Hindi movie Pippa is directed by Raja Krishna Menon and stars Ishaan Khatter, Mrunal Thakur, Priyanshu Painyuli, Soni Razdan, Chandrachoor Rai, Anuj Singh Duhan, Kamal Sadanah, Flora David Jacob

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Pippa review

Pippa review

  • Tank battles
  • Emotional heft
  • Not over-the-top


  • Predictable sequences
  • Generic music

Bollywood and war movies, in recent times, have tended to err on the side of excess. Jingoism is exciting. The characters are shaded mostly in mono-chromes. The music is loud and manipulative. It is good to see a Hindi war movie that does not fall into these pitfalls. And because of it, it is tempting to overlook the flaws in Pippa, which has chosen to premiere directly on Amazon Prime Video. 

But first things first, Pippa is based on 1971 Indo-Pak war hero Captain Balram Singh Mehta, who belonged to the 45th Cavalry tank squadron. The man later went on to become Brigadier Mehta and wrote his rousing experiences in the eminently readable book.

Director Raja Krishna Menon, along with his co-writers Ravinder Randhawa and Tanmay Mohan, focus mainly on the famous Battle of Garibpur. This operation led to the liberation of East Pakistan as Bangladesh. It is one of the treasured chapters of Indian military history. And this battle forms an essential chapter in it.

The director doesn’t jump into the military part of it as he approaches it through a family angle of war hero Mehta. The old man of the family is a war martyr. His first son Ram (Priyanshu Painyuli) is already a veteran of the 1965 war. The second son Balram called Balli (Ishaan Khatter) is distracted and impetuous. Though he is also in the army,  he is under punishment for insubordination. But he is an expert in handling amphibious tanks  — a skill that is central to the proceedings. Their mother (Soni Razdan) is worried for her sons. The daughter of the house Radha (Mrunal Thakur), an activist student, is also recruited by the military for her skills in decoding crypto messages.

As the battle on India’s eastern front gets intense, the three siblings find themselves in the thick of it. Ram, in an incognito avatar, sneaks into East Pakistan in tow with Mukti Bahini fighters. Radha gets into the reckoning as the intelligence code-breaker. And in the fullness of time, Balli rides the Cavalry’s PT-76 battle tank, which is nicknamed Pippa, with bravura and brilliance. The battle tank scenes in the film are among the highlights. It has both energy and believability. And Ishaan Khattar, though looking boyish for a crusty war soldier, manfully shoulders the role. He is full of passion and that helps him nail the role of a committed battlefront hero. The rest of the cast are like soldiers, focused and workman-like.

The director keeps the emotions at even-keel and the jingoism doesn’t overflow. A R Rahman’s music lacks his usual nuance and is surprisingly generic. The film, even if predictable in its flow, does not let go of its sincerity. Much like the army,  it stays the course for the most part.

What are the other critics saying about Pippa?

Balakumar Kuppuswamy
Balakumar Kuppuswamy

An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.

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