While he insists the entire process of preparing for and working on the new film Pippa was a learning experience, Indian actor Ishaan Khatter says that it mainly taught him discipline and the importance of sweat equity. Khatter essays the lead role of Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta in the film that released on Prime Video on November 10. Mehta fought the Battle of Garibpur during the Indo-Pak war from the Indian side and the film is based on his war memoir The Burning Chaffees.
Set amid the action-packed 48-hour-long Battle of Garibpur, Pippa is the story of three siblings including two Indian soldiers. Raja Krishna Menon has directed the film while Academy award-winning musician A R Rahman has composed the music. Apart from Ishaan, Pippa also features Priyanshu Painyuli, Soni Razdan, and Mrunal Thakur. The film is produced by RSVP and Roy Kapur Films.
Asked about the memorable moments from working on the film, Khatter says, “All of it was an incredible journey. The preparation was a uniquely amazing experience. We trained with the army, at their cantonments, twice for seven days in a row. After those training sessions, we emerged as different men.”
He adds, “The shoot was lovely because we all got along beautifully. We were all determined to raise the bar for the film. Executing the long shots was an experience – they were all precisely orchestrated to film the tank battles. We shot all of it practically so to bring out the rawness of reactions. Working with the real Pippa – the star of our film – the PT-76 amphibious tank, was an experience in itself. Filming on the Pippa swimming through water is a life experience that I will always carry with me.”
Lessons ‘Pippa’ taught
Pippa is not just about the war and battlefield. Through the personal journey and struggles of Brigadier Mehta, the film also traces his human side. Khatter says, “Everything from the body language of army officers to the physical drilling that they go through, was included during our training with the army. We also had to understand the mindset of the soldiers. Spending time with them enabled us to have a glimpse into what makes them. The cavaliers in particular, the level of expertise and precision they operate with, is immense. Our attempt was to understand it all so that it can reflect in our portrayal in the film.”
Asked about a lesson he learnt while working on the film, Khatter says, “Discipline. Sweat equity. And above all the value of working with a wonderful cast and crew. Each member trying to raise the other. It was a rare experience.”
Ishaan in international projects
He also mentions his international web series with Nicole Kidman. “It is extremely exciting and it explores an unchartered territory. I am looking forward for the world to see it.”
Asked if he finds any difference in the way Indian and international film industries function, the actor says, “Fundamentally, no. I really believe we’re all telling stories through images and sound. There are differences in processes and systems or methods. But then again one sees differences between two units in our own industry as well.”
(The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity).