Ronnie Screwvala and Siddharth Roy Kapur announce their next with Airlift director Raja Krishna Menon, starring Ishaan Khatter in a first of its kind action-packed war film with a celebrated army tank at the crux of the film.
In this heroic tank battle film, Ishaan is set to take on the role of war veteran Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta of the 45th Cavalry tank squadron who, along with his siblings, fought on the eastern front during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. It was with this battle, which took place in Garibpur, that India for the first time infiltrated and entered enemy land, thus leading to the liberation of our neighbour Bangladesh.
The film titled Pippa is written by Ravinder Randhawa, Tanmay Mohan, and Raja Krishna Menon. It is based on the book The Burning Chaffees, written by the Brigadier himself. The film’s unique title highlights the magnificent Russian amphibious war tank called the PT-76, popularly and lovingly known as “Pippa”, an empty ghee da dabba that smoothly floats on water.
In their Pippa, Balram and his tank squadron fought the riveting 48-hour-long Battle of Garibpur that laid the foundation for and influenced the outcome of the impending war in India’s favour. The film also portrays the coming-of-age of a young Mehta as well as of our nation, as both stepped up to prove themselves in a war for the liberation of another country. The battle paved the path for India’s triumph as Captain Mehta rose to the occasion and led his troops to victory.
In addition to the war-front bravado, thrilling military camaraderie, and majestic action sequences that will surely wow audiences, this story also explores the poignancy of a family displaced during wartime amidst the backdrop of the heart-wrenching refugee crisis that plagues our world even today. The key roles of Mehta’s elder brother and younger sister, who also bravely conducted themselves during the war, are in the process of being cast.
Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur shares, “While the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 is widely documented, one of its less-known chapters is the covert operation that became the Battle of Garibpur, which played a significant part in India’s eventual victory. This is the war that is often heralded as the only ‘just war’ in history because it was fought to save human lives and free a nation. Brigadier Mehta’s fascinating account resonated with us deeply, and we instinctively knew that Ishaan would be ideal to play him. Ishaan’s raw, youthful energy perfectly complements Brigadier Mehta’s valour and bravado. His acting chops paired with Raja’s sensitivity towards the subject, knowledge of every facet of this war and panache for large-scale action dramas, makes this all the more compelling a story for us to take to the screen!”
Excited about leading this film, actor Ishaan Khatter shares, “I’m exhilarated to be a part of a film of such magnitude and importance, and getting a chance to play the role of the suave and spirited tank commander Captain Balram Mehta is a true privilege. I’m honoured by the faith shown in me by Ronnie sir, Siddharth sir and Raja sir and I’m looking forward to the exciting experience of Pippa.”
Producer Ronnie Screwvala, who produced the biggest war film of all time, Uri: The Surgical Strike, comments, “It’s not just about a great patriotic battle. The story of the 45th Squadron led by Captain Balram Mehta is one that needs to be told to this generation. This film is a visual celebration of not only India’s valour but also the sharp strategy shown by us during the year of 1971 along with our alliance with Bangladesh, all seen through the eyes of the Mehta family and their stirring internal and external conflicts”.
Director Raja Krishna Menon shares, “Pippa is a war film, but it also has an emotional core celebrating the triumph of love and humanity. The fact that there is going to be some never-seen-before tank war action is extremely thrilling to me as a filmmaker, but it’s the heroism and patriotism displayed by the young and strapping Brigadier Mehta, despite all that he was going through in his family, that really connected with me when Siddharth shared this story. I’m very happy that Ronnie and Siddharth have shown tremendous belief in my vision and I can think of no one better to do justice to the role than the terrifically talented Ishaan. This is truly going to be a special one!”
Pippa, produced by RSVP and Roy Kapur Films, will hit theatres late next year.