THE VACCINE WAR
Producer- Pallavi Joshi
Director- Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri
Cast- Nana Patekar, Anupam Kher, Pallavi Joshi, Girija Oak Godbole, Nivedita Bhattacharya and Raima Sen
Platform of Release- Theatrical
By Jyothi Venkatesh
Based on the book Going Viral: Making of Covaxin by Bhargava Balram, the film revolves around a group of scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV), headed by Dr Bhargav (Nana Patekar) an eccentric and unpredictable scientist and hard taskmaster, who holds no qualms about snatching away the personal lives of his women subordinates as they face numerous challenges while developing an indigenous and affordable Covid-19 vaccine.
Rohini Singh Dhulia, (Raima Sen) is the editor of a science magazine,who can go to any length to prove that Dr Bhargav’s team consisting of Priya Abraham, Nivedita Gupta and Pragya Yadav is incompetent. It is quite interesting to note that while the men are afraid of putting their lives at risk, it’s the female scientists who stand up in the face of adversity and give their heart and soul to creating a vaccine to save mankind.
Like Vivek’s last two films The Tashkent Files and The Kashmir Files, this movie too is informative and doles out a lot of interesting information. Agenda or not, propaganda or not, a whole lot of research has gone into making The Vaccine War that enlightens you as an audience.
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As far as the performances go, I‘d say that Nana Patekar returns to the big screen after a break and gives his best to play Dr Bhargav and almost becomes the character and a few minutes into the story, you can’t really distinguish the actor from the character he’s playing. His impeccable comic timing, poker face and straight-faced humour is like a cherry on the cake. Pallavi Joshi plays Priya Abraham quite earnestly. Also, underneath her tough exterior, you will get to see her go.
Girija Oak does an endearing job while Nivedita Bhattacharya displays inherent talent which has not yet been tapped to a great extent. Raima Sen plays an interesting as well as complex part and it’s good to see her return to Bollywood after a while. Anupam Kher plays a cabinet minister, and he doesn’t have a long screen time or a substantial role.
Though I do feel that the makers of the film should have made a clear demarcation that they are not the real journalists, but just a bunch of content creators who want to be heard and seen for their personal motives, there is absolutely no doubt that Agnihotri’s lens not merely captures the chaos and despair but is also is a spotlight on the resilience of humanity, the spirit of innovation and the power of unity, especially in a world where countries struggled to find solutions.