Raja Menon’s 'Pippa' is a fresh perspective on war sagas

'Pippa', a war saga based on true events, narrates the story of a family during the 1971 war

Director Raja Menon creates a stirring family narrative in the midst of war in 'Pippa'.
Director Raja Menon creates a stirring family narrative in the midst of war in 'Pippa'.

Subhash K Jha

Movie: Pippa (Prime Video)

Rating: ****

Director: Raja Menon

Starring: Ishaan Khattar, Mrunal Thakur and Priyanshu Painyuli


The tendency to glorify the ravages of war, is neatly avoided in Raja Menon’s Pippa which opens with a lengthy prologue explaining who or what ‘Pippa’ is. The amphibian battle tank will show up later when the live action at the warfront kicks in.

Warning: don’t expect too much bloodshed in this war film, this is not your Bridge Over the River Kwai Border kind of violence-torn war saga.

Based on the real experiences of war hero Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta  from the book The Burning Chaffees,  Pippa takes its time to get to the point: there is no point to shedding blood at the border. Sure, India helped East Pakistan in creating Bangladesh. But at what cost? Was all the bloodshed worth it?

Imagined in colours of valour that do not favour violence, Pippa is a well-told story of a family of siblings engaged in the 1971 war. The pace is  languorous and unhurried. But the payoff is substantial. We come away from the war saga with a tear in our eye and no blood on our screens.

The performances are stubbornly laidback. Ishaan Khatter has the author-backed role. He makes the best of the opportunity. But is betrayed by his boyish personality. Priyanshu Painyuli is well cast as the upright  committed sibling soldier. Perhaps he should have been cast  in the title role.

The performance that caught my attention was Kamal Sadanah as Sam Manekshaw. It is a warm winking tribute to the Field Marshall.

AR Rahman’s music has lately been sounding lamentably lackluster. In Pippa the music and songs are not just disappointing, they are unwanted.

Director Raja Krishna Menon (whose earlier credits include the taut and gripping Airlift) takes his own time to gather the plot into a compendium  of collective war images. This is not an upscale war film like  J P Dutta’s Border or Farhan Akhtar’s Lakshya. The stakes in Pippa are not that high.

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