Pippa (2023 Film Review)


Based on the story of Captain Balram Singh Mehta of India’s 45 Cavalry regiment, who fought on the eastern front of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 alongside his siblings, Pippa is a 2023 Indian Hindi-language biographical war film. The film, which takes its name from the Russian amphibious battle tank PT-76, which floats on water like an empty “pippa” (tin) of ghee, follows Mehta as he matures and rises to prominence in the Bangladesh Liberation battle. Raja Krishna Menon is the director of this 1971 Battle of Garibpur adaption. It is based on actual events.

Producing the movie were RSVP Movies and Roy Kapur Films, alongside producers Ronnie Screwvala and Siddharth Roy Kapur. Mrunal Thakur, Priyanshu Painyuli, and Ishaan Khatter play the key parts. ‘The Burning Chaffees’, the war memoir by Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta, is the basis for the movie.


Background: The 1971 Dhaka University massacre was caused by Pakistan Army forces entering the DHAKA University on March 25, 1971, and firing on personnel and students without distinction. Yahya Khan, the president of Pakistan, starts Operation Searchlight in an effort to put an end to the Bengali nationalist movement. The Pakistani Army seized thousands of Bengali women as sex slaves and slaughtered thousands more. Millions of people seek safety by crossing into India.

A young officer named Captain Balram Singh Mehta serves in the 45th Cavalry unit, which is known as “Pippa” after its PT-76 tank. He frequently runs afoul of his higher officers and has some discipline concerns. Major Ram Mehta, his older brother, is attempting to punish his younger brother. Their mother Maati lives in Delhi with the three of them, including their sister Radha Mehta.

In anticipation of the impending conflict, Major Ram receives a call to a forward location one day. Because of his lack of discipline, Captain Balram is not allowed to travel to the front and is instead given a desk job, while the other members of his regiment go ahead and reach the front. Radha, in the meantime, demonstrates her proficiency with encryption and is accepted into the “Communication and Analysis Wing,” a signals intelligence unit that interprets communications from adversaries.

Under false pretenses, Major Ram is instructed to infiltrate East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and train the Mukti Bahini, providing them with operational guidance. Captain Balram successfully completes the task assigned to him to make certain changes to the PT-76 tank. His inventiveness impresses Army Chief General Sam Manekshaw, who orders him to join his regiment on the front lines while on an inspection tour.

Mukti Bahini is successfully led by Major Ram in several missions against the Pakistan Army. But he is taken prisoner during one of the raids. Taken to a camp, he undergoes torture in order to extract information. He is able to withstand the torment, though, and he withholds his identity and all other details.

In the Battle of Garibpur, Captain Balram’s regiment and the 14th Punjab battalion cross the border and fight Pakistani forces. Major Daljit “Chiefy” Singh Narang, Captain Balram’s senior officer and squadron leader, is killed in action during the engagement, forcing Captain Balram to take over as commander. Captain Balram leads his unit to victory with success.

Not long later, he gets a call from Radha informing him that Major Ram is missing in action according to intelligence sources. By coincidence, he learns that one Indian Army officer is being held captive at a certain location from a Bengali officer who has been taken in Pakistan and has rebelled against the Pakistan Army.

Additionally, Radha decodes a signal from Pakistan indicating that the US Seventh Fleet is en route to East Pakistan in an attempt to intervene on behalf of Pakistan. This increases the urgency with which India must conduct its operations in order to win and force Pakistan to submit before US ships are able to approach within striking range.

The Mukti Bahini, who is contacted by Captain Balram’s regiment, offers to guide them to the camp where Major Ram is being imprisoned. Major Ram’s would-be executioner is about to be shot for withholding information, but the Mukti Bahini rebels arrive just in time to stop him. After a bloody battle, the Pakistani camp is taken and many Bengali women who were being kept as sex slaves are set free. Captain Balram’s tank battalion also arrives. Captain Balram and Major Ram are also reconciled.

The Pakistan Army submitted soon after, and Bangladesh gained its independence. Radha, Major Ram, and Captain Balram head back to their mother’s house.


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