Pippa is one of those sincerely made war movies that helps the audience feel the right emotions. There is combat and family involved, but none of it was projected as over the top throughout the running time of the film. The realistic take on war and how it affects families as well has been projected with the utmost ease. One of the lead characters of the show is Captain Balram Mehta, and his role in the film is based on the real-life war hero who served in the Bangladesh Liberation War and was part of the victory as well.
Captain Balram’s Arc
The Raja Krishna Menon movie is based on the book by the same Brigadier Balram Mehta who served as a captain with 45th Cavalry during the war. The movie was based on his experience as an army officer who served on the eastern front and managed the PT-76 Russian Tank, aka Pippa. The tank played an important role in winning the war for the Indian army. Since the movie is based on a real-life character, most of the incidents and events mentioned in the movie are true, and the filmmaker made sure to not divert and take too many cinematic liberties. The movie begins with Ishaan Khattar as Captain Balram Mehta, narrating the history of the revolution that began in East Pakistan, which was a large chunk of Bengal that went to them after the partition in 1947. He explains the reason why the Indian government had to intervene, which led to the war between India and Pakistan. The war resulted in the formation of Bangladesh.
Captain Balram’s arc in the movie began as a rebellious army officer who dared to do something different from those who always followed orders. After taking charge of one of the PT-76 tanks, he drove the machine into deep waters to test its strength. Captain Balram was one of the best and most intelligent officers, but he was also an unassuming character who believed in going the extra mile without worrying about the consequences of his actions.
Captain Balram’s Relationship With His Family
Balram had an elder brother in the film, Major Ram Mehta, who always reprimanded him for his blunt nature. Balram never understood his brother’s confrontational nature, and it caused frequent friction between the siblings. He had a softer relationship with his sister, who was conscious of his defiant nature. Being the youngest one in the family, he was given some degree of freedom, and he didn’t have to take on the mantle of taking care of the family as his brother Ram had to do. This whole description of the family is based on the details mentioned in the movie. Brigadier Balram, in real life, had four brothers and a sister. His brothers, just like him, served in the Indian Army, and their sister was a dentist.
Captain Balram Mehta in the film was assigned a desk job for a while because the disciplinary commission ruled against him for his disorderly behavior. Balram had expected to be let off lightly because of his good camaraderie with his superiors in the battalion. But things initially didn’t go as planned. His desk job distressed him until the army chief, Sam Manekshaw, spotted his skill as a combatant and his love for the Pippa, the amphibian tank.
Captain Balram And His Stint With Combat
Once he was back on the field, Captain Balram became the tiger that was constantly on the prowl to seek victory at any cost. On the way to the Indian camp set on the eastern front of the country, he was appalled to see the number of Bengalis from East Pakistan who were forced to leave their homes and find refuge in India. It reminded him of his mother retelling the harrowing experience of their exodus from Rawalpindi to Delhi during the partition. They had to give up everything close to their family and start their lives from scratch. He understood the ramifications of the ongoing conflict in East Pakistan against their government. It motivated him further to fight for the destitute.
Balram was also attached to a pair of boots he wore to combat because of their history with his family. The boots belonged to his father, who had served in the army and wanted his sons to join the force as well. The boots were passed on to his elder brother as his legacy, and Balram reveals he stole them from Ram. He wanted to understand the idea of being in someone else’s shoes and the weight of carrying forward his family’s tradition. Despite what the family thought of him, Balram was serious about the work assigned to him on the frontier. The first battle was crucial but at the cost of losing their chief of operations within minutes of the conflict beginning. Balram had to take charge of the operation seconds after he learned of his team leader’s death in action. This emphasizes the aspect of moving on quickly because the enemy waits for no one. He had learned of his brother going missing in action from his sister Radha who was working with intelligence. Balram was wondering whether to go rogue and rescue his brother instead of facing the enemy battalion. Good sense prevailed, and he ended up following the orders of his current operation lead, who was willing to take another route to reach Burinda. He had received another piece of information from an enemy deserter about an Indian army officer being held as a POW at Burinda. Balram had the opportunity to go against his orders and look for his brother instead. Since the battalion was headed to the town, he showed patience and did not make a move in haste.
Captain Balram After The War
Captain Balram showed his skills as an army officer in the Battle of Burinda. His battalion decimated the enemy tanks and trucks upon entering the town. This win was crucial, but finally finding his brother alive was the happiest news for him. The brothers reunite, acknowledge each other’s prowess as army officers, and head home happily. Captain Balram seemed to have cemented his position as one of the war heroes of the 1971 war, and the Pakistan army surrendered within a few days of the Indian army’s incursion into East Pakistan. The Indian army’s victory led to the formation of the new country, Bangladesh, and thus ended the reign of West Pakistan over this region.
Brigadier Balram Mehta is very much alive and active, and over the years he’s put on paper his experience working with the 45th Cavalry, which led to winning the battle of Garibpur. He took voluntary retirement from the armed forces and has been actively working with various state governments, universities, and non-profit organizations.