Pippa Review: A Stale and Self-Congratulatory War Drama

Rahul Desai

Raja Krishna Menon’s Pippa

Another biopic that uses South Asian history to fan the flames of the current climate. The humanity that drives this story feels like an excuse to valorise one nation by villainising the second and victimising the third.

History and Fiction

This treatment of Pippa is a pity, because the source material has the motifs of a war epic. It is an adaptation of The Burning Chaffees, a 2016 book by Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta, the film’s valiant protagonist and leader during the 1971 Battle of Garibpur.

The Toll of an Army Life Simply Does Not Show

The real-life Indian Army-man from the 45 Cavalry regiment is played by Ishaan Khatter, an actor whose boyishness is at odds with the chain-smoking masculinity of this role.

There Are Also Shades Of

Saving Private Ryan (1998), Fury (2014) and Pearl Harbour (2001; replace the love triangle with a sibling triangle), neither of which seem to inspire the bland action sequences of Pippa. The title of the film – which translates to “an empty ghee can” – refers to India’s first amphibious tank.

Points of Disconnect

The staging is the biggest failing of Pippa. There is very little sense of rhythm, timing or cultural balance. For instance, the film opens with the Pakistani army storming a university in Dhaka and gunning down the protesting students.