The 52nd anniversary of the Battle of Garibpur occurs this month. It was a pivotal conflict leading up to the 1971 Indo-Pak War, and it featured a dramatic tank battle in the eastern theater of the conflict amid the height of the Bangladesh independence struggle. Former Indian Army Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta was a young officer in the 45th Cavalry. When his commanding Major was killed in action, Mehta took leadership, leading a squadron of Soviet-made PT-76 amphibious tanks that destroyed the superior M24 Chaffee tanks of the enemy. The next morning, Indian troops seized the important hamlet with the help of an aerial interception.
Mehta's war memoir, The Burning Chaffees, has been made into a Hindi film named Pippa, featuring Ishaan Khatter as the young, courageous captain. Raja Krishna Menon (Airlift, Chef) helmed the picture, which also features Priyanshu Painyuli, Mrunal Thakur, and Soni Razdan. Due to a delay, it will not appear in theaters until November 10 but will debut the day before on Amazon Prime Video. We talked to Ishaan and his director about how they avoided hate and hyper-nationalism in their war film by staging genuine tank action.