Pippa is too unfocused in intent

Ishaan Khatter in Pippa. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

I had changed my view of director Raja Krishna Menon, whose first two films, Bas Yun Hi and Barah Aana, were far from noteworthy. But one Airlift and then (even if unsuccessful) Chef made my expectations soar from this man. Sadly though, this pointless, pretentiously patriotic film, based on an autobiography of a soldier, does not leave the slightest impact, as it tries to cover up its narrative deficiencies with an outer veneer of grand shots of action and makes the Indian amphibious tank, nicknamed Pippa, the ‘hero’ of the film!

We are also well past the era when patriotic films had great music, including stirring or rousing nationalistic songs, and the very fact that A.R. Rahman has been handed over the ‘music’ shows how ambitions even in that department have sunk to subterranean levels. Never mind the controversy going on around the rework of Nazrul Islam’s song—the score is a catastrophe worse than Pakistan’s defeat in 1971! This time, even the background score by him is very average, unlike his normal superlative work in that field!

Ishaan Khatter may suit his character of Balram Singh Mehta, but his performance lacks the punch that was needed badly to carry the film. Mrunal Thakur continues to be tepid, and Priyanshu Painyuli has done far better in superior roles in web series. There is no real story, except that all three are siblings work for the country, are children of a war hero, and Balram has a crucial role in the 1971 Indo-Pak war that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

Thus, the story is fundamentally about the personal evolution of Balram from being almost a spoilt brat into a maturedetermined soldier, but the focus is clearly not there, as the war tank becomes the hero of this martial adventure! Priya Seth’s awesome camerawork and the VFX are all tremendous but in the end, it’s a lost cause.

There is one more reason for the lack of identification: how many Indian viewers will identify with Bangladesh and its problems? Today’s generation may well want to know why India at all got involved in what was essentially a war between East and West Pakistan more than half a century ago!

The film lacks true emotional depth and thus sounds shallow, with hollow patriotic overtones. The director goofs up big-time along with the writers, and four actors— Suryansh Patel as Ramphal, Anuj Singh Duhan as Speedy, Chandrachoor Rai as Chiefy and Soham Majumdar as Anirban Mukherjee—shine amidst average turns. And I wish Soni Razdan does not become the modern avatar of the long-suffering Kamini Kaushal, Nirupa Roy and even Reema Lagoo! Flora Jacob plays Indira Gandhi for the fourth time (after Raid, Thalaivi and Radhe Shyam) and that too must be irksome for her! And shockingly, a consummate actor like INaamulhaq is made to ham to the gills!

Rating: **

Amazon Prime Video presents RSVP’s & Roy Kapur Films’ Pippa  Produced by: Ronnie Screwvala & Siddharth Roy Kapur  Directed by: Raja Krishna Menon  Written by: Balram Singh Mehta, Raja Krishna Menon, Ravinder Randhawa & Tanmay Mohan  Music: A.R. Rahman  Starring: Ishaan Khatter, Mrunal Thakur, Priyanshu Painyuli, Soni Razdan, Inaamulhaq, Suryansh Patel, Anuj Singh Duhan, Kamal Sadanah, Chandrachoor Rai, Soham Majumdar, Leysan Karimova, Neeraj Purohit & others



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