Writer-director Raja Krishna Menon known for his historical-drama Airlift starring Akshay Kumar will now be directing Ishaan Khatter in his next film. Titled Pippa, it is touted to be a war film that will be jointly bankrolled by Ronnie Screwvala under his RSVP Movies banner and Siddharth Roy Kapur under his Roy Kapur Films banner.
Ronnie Screwvala took to Twitter to announce the news.
Tomorrow as we celebrate Independence Day, I am pleased to announce our next True Story – of India’s pride, bravery and victory in the 1971 India – Pak war. #IshaanKhattar essays the role of #BrigadierBalaramSinghMehta. Directed by @RajaMenon, in cinemas late next year. pic.twitter.com/6ZgAYRUnQU
— Ronnie Screwvala (@RonnieScrewvala) August 14, 2020
The film is a true story that will showcase India’s pride, bravery, and victory in the war. Based on the book The Burning Chaffees by Balram Singh Mehta, the film’s title is derived from the Russian amphibious war tank, the PT-76, popularly known as ‘Pippa’.
Ishaan will play Capt. Balram Singh Mehta of the 45th Cavalry tank squadron who, along with his siblings, fought on the eastern front during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. This battle, which happened in Garibpur, gave way for India, in a first, to infiltrate enemy land, thus leading to the liberation of the neighbouring country Bangladesh. The cast who will essay his siblings, the elder brother, and younger sister, are yet to be finalised.
Ishaan Khatter said, “I am 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 am honoured by the faith shown in me by Ronnie sir, Siddharth sir, and Raja sir, and I am looking forward to the exciting experience of Pippa.”
Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur says that the film is a lesser-known chapter in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 and also 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 owing to his raw, youthful energy that perfectly complements Brigadier Mehta’s valour and bravado,” he said.
Producer Ronnie Screwvala says that the film is not just about a patriotic battle but is a story that needs to be told to the current 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 in alliance with Bangladesh, all seen through the eyes of the Mehta family and their stirring internal and external conflicts,” he said.
Director Raja Krishna Menon said, “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 really connected with me when Siddharth shared this story.”
He added, “I am 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!”
The film will hit screens late next year. Raja Krishna Menon’s last film Chef, a 2017 dramedy starring Saif Ali Khan and Padmapriya Janakiraman performed poorly at the box office. It is the official remake of the 2014 American film of the same name. It deals with Roshan, a chef, who loses his job and eventually decides to start his own mobile kitchen.
Ishaan will next feature in Gurmmeet Singh‘s Phone Bhoot, the first look of which was recently unveiled and in Maqbool Khan‘s Khaali Peeli which is likely to resume shoot after the hiatus next week. His BBC and Netflix Original A Suitable Boy helmed by Mira Nair, began streaming on BBC One and Iplayer last month, while its Netflix release date is yet to be announced.
Watch the A Suitable Boy trailer here.