In the tumultuous realm of Hindi action cinema, Pippa emerges as a unique contender, delivering some of the most intense tank battles ever witnessed on the Indian screen.
Directed by the seasoned Raja Krishna Menon and inspired by the riveting book, The Burning Chaffees, penned by army veteran Balram Singh Mehta, the film embarks on a journey that is both visually arresting and emotionally charged. However, like any rollercoaster, it has its highs and lows, veering between seamless execution and moments where narrative seams are conspicuously visible.
A Sibling Saga Amidst War: Balancing Duty and Family Ties
The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a joint military training exercise between India and Russia in 1971. Balram (Ishaan Khatter), a spirited army man, defies orders and takes an amphibious tank into uncharted waters. This act of insubordination strains his relationship with his older brother, Ram (Priyanshu Painyuli), a decorated soldier, and their war widow mother (Soni Razdan). As the Bangladesh Liberation War rages on, Balram finds himself grappling with family expectations and military duties.
Balram’s journey takes an unexpected turn when, through a blend of engineering wit and the backdrop of Jubin Nautiyal’s inspiring tunes, he is reinstated in the 45th Cavalry, deployed in the intense conflict in the east. The film weaves a poignant tale around Balram’s moral dilemma: rescue his captive brother or adhere strictly to his orders as the acting commander.
War’s Moral Echoes: Beyond Explosions and Action
Pippa stands out in the Hindi film landscape for its keen sensitivity to the moral reverberations of war. In a thought-provoking scene, Balram cynically discusses the refugee crisis, only to be reminded by his mother of their own family’s refugee history during Partition. This dialogue is revisited as Balram witnesses the stark reality of displaced refugees, showcasing the film’s commitment to exploring the human side of conflict.
The film also delves into the involvement of children in armed struggles, questioning the blurred lines between childhood and maturity in the face of war. Such introspective moments, though occasionally delivered in a slightly gimmicky manner, add depth to the narrative and elevate Pippa beyond a mere action spectacle.
Casting Choices and Cinematic Ambition: A Mixed Bag
Ishaan Khatter, in the lead role, brings youthful energy to the character of Balram, but his softer voice occasionally undermines the intensity of critical scenes. Priyanshu Painyuli, on the other hand, delivers a solid performance that anchors the film. The supporting cast, especially Soham Majumdar as a geeky analyst, adds memorable nuances to the storytelling.
Cinematographer Priya Seth captures the war scenes against expansive landscapes, providing a visceral experience for the audience. However, the film’s visual impact is slightly marred by the clumsily integrated VFX, leaving viewers questioning the film’s budget constraints or the hurried transition from theatrical release to streaming.
A Cinematic Triumph with a Few Speed Bumps
Pippa undoubtedly marks a refreshing departure from the usual cacophony of Hindi war films, offering a nuanced exploration of family dynamics within the throes of conflict. Despite its occasional narrative missteps and visual hiccups, the film remains a compelling watch for those seeking a balanced blend of action and emotion.
Pippa is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.