After the success of ‘The Kashmir Files’, expectations are definitely high from Vivek Agnihotri to make history repeat itself in a film that mirrors Indian scientists’ fight against the Corona virus
The film revolves around Balram Bhargava (Nana Patekar), the no-nonsense and extremely workaholic Director General of ICMR (Indian Council Of Medical Research) and Dr. Priya Abraham (Pallavi Joshi), the Director of National Institute of Virology (NIV) and their combined incessant fight against the deadly corona virus that had brought the entire world to a standstill a couple of years ago.
The film, which is based on Balram Bhargava’s book ‘Going Viral: Making of Covaxin’, has been divided into twelve chapters /parts which touches upon the fight endured by the scientists in order to tame the deadly Corona virus pandemic. The film starts off with the Indian scientists finding an extremely unique virus. The frontrunners in the fight to tame the virus are ICMR’s Balram Bhargava and his dedicated team on one hand, and on the other hand, there is NIV’s Dr. Priya Abraham and her equally dedicated ‘mostly-women’ team. The film shows the seamless and ‘cannot-afford-to-say-tired’ efforts put in by everyone to find the ‘root cause’ and the ‘route-cause’ of the virus. These efforts include the challenges faced by the women scientists’ as they juggle between their personal and professional lives, them dealing with an extremely tough boss who will not take no for an answer, the challenging task of finding macaque monkeys amidst the dense forests of Nagpur for trials, the ‘Indian scientists’ failed efforts to go to Iran for rescue due to ‘financial challenges’ amongst the others.
Armed with the motto of ‘under promise, over deliver’ and the vision that’s aimed only on the fish’s eye, both the teams set out on their journey to overpower the deadly virus. Amidst all this, one of the main challenges lying in front of Balram Bhargava and Dr. Priya Abraham happens to be Rohini Singh Dhulia (Raima Sen), the Science Editor of ‘The Daily Wire’, who is hell-bent on setting a false narrative to bring down India’s untiring attempts to manufacture its own vaccine. Giving out the reason for Rohini setting up a false narrative will only act as a spoiler. Do Balram Bhargava and Dr. Priya Abraham and their team become successful in taming the virus, what are the obstacles faced in the journey embarked by them and most importantly, what happens to the false narrative set by Rohini Singh Dhulia is what forms the rest of the film.
Even though 'The Vaccine War' is a sincere attempt in showing the various challenges faced by the Indian scientists in order to overpower the deadly Corona virus, there are a few scenes in the film which seem a bit out of place. Barring a few scenes, the film’s writer Vivek Agnihotri does a decent job. The film’s first half is extremely believable which makes the audience start feeling for the scientists who do not even have the time to even blink before burning the midnight oil. But the film starts dipping randomly in its second half. The belief which was established in the first half, now translates into a question mark in its second half. That does not take away the sincerity of the actors in the full film… not even a bit. The film’s second half does pose a few questions which challenges the film’s narrative. As for the film’s dialogues, it is Nana Patekar who adds his trademark style and gives it a flavour to suit the film. The line ‘Safalta Ravan ko khojne mein nahi hai,Ravan ko maarne mein hai’ is bound to garner claps from the audience.
No prizes for guessing this one. The film belongs totally to Nana Patekar and Pallavi Joshi (in the order) who simply own the film. As the film progresses, one starts feeling for Nana Patekar’s character, despite him being a tough taskmaster. His style of appreciating the deserving ones is bound to melt your heart. On a close second is Pallavi Joshi, who does an extremely good job in her role of Dr. Priya Abraham. The USP of her character that wins your heart is the relatability. The other actors like the super-confident Girija Oak, Sapthami Gowda, Nivedita Bhattacharya act as pillar of strength not just to Pallavi Joshi’s character, but also in the film. Raima Sen makes a comeback with her role carrying gray shades. The veteran actor Anupam Kher does justice to his role.
As stated before, with a box-office winner like ‘The Kashmir Files’ behind him, expectations are bound to be sky high from Vivek Agnihotri and his film ‘The Vaccine War’. Even though, Vivek does a decent job with his direction, there are places where he tends to overlook. The film’s second half could have been directed better to ensure it becomes more believable, rather than looking like an on-screen version of a handful of random WhatsApp forwarded messages. Even though Vivek succeeds in making the film relatable with his direction, the challenge was to make it believable (one needs to see the film to understand what it means).
The film’s music is just about passable. A film of this stature thrives majorly on its background music, which is excellent by all means. The rendition of ‘Srishtee se pehle sat nahin thaa, asat bhi nahin’ is bound to give you goosebumps. Even though we have heard this rendition many times before, the picturisation of this track is what creates the visual magic.
Overall, ‘The Vaccine War’ is a must watch for everyone. The film is an ode to every individual ranging from the team of scientists, their families to the security guards to everyone else who have contributed in some way or the other through their services and expertise. It is because of everyone's collective efforts, which made India become successful in creating its very own indigenous vaccine, that proved to be a life saver for countless people all over.