Review: 'The Vaccine War' is a brave attempt to show the valorous journey of NIV & ICMR in a cinematic manner
With a few controversies here & there and a few opinions on the block, Vivek Agnihotri is here with yet another relevant film for the country, this time reporting something we all closely witnessed and were pretty much a part of.
Published: Thursday,Sep 28, 2023 04:30 AM GMT-06:00
Vivek Agnihotri: A name that started echoing in the ears of the general audiences after his blockbuster film 'The Kashmir Files'. With a few controversies here and there and a few opinions on the block, the man is here with yet another relevant film for the country, this time reporting something we all closely witnessed and were pretty much a part of: "highlighting the saga of how India developed its first vaccine to combat Covid-19 with 'The Vaccine War'. Propaganda? Agenda? Documentary? Drama? What terms will be associated with the film is for you all to judge and decide later. After watching the movie, this is what I felt about it.
Vivek Agnihotri is here to give a shoutout to the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and NIV (National Institute of Virology, the two other protagonists, along with others, with a story of how India triumphed over the COVID-19 pandemic by creating the groundbreaking 'Covaxin'.
In this film, there is no room for the usual clashes between communities or the need to uncover the untold. This time, it's about celebrating the relentless dedication of our scientists who achieved the near-impossible. Agnihotri takes us on a journey through the intricate web of politics, various government institutions and the undeniable influence of the media involved. And he does so with a delicate touch, avoiding the preachy and opting for a dense yet easily digestible information-packed narrative.
The film strikes a perfect balance, seamlessly blending technical jargons and scientific terms with a language that the common man can grasp. The first half of the movie might seem to drag at times, but it's all for a purpose. As we transition into the second half, the pace picks up, breathing life into the characters and culminating in the fulfilment of their character arcs.
While the core narrative remains unwavering and resolute, Agnihotri has skillfully interwoven additional subplots into the fabric of the story. These subplots introduce elements of drama and subtly draw attention to government shortcomings or the character saying, "hum scientists ke paas koi proof nahi hai to show our work ki ek rocket jalaya aur use uda diya ki wo mars par pohch jaaye". The film refrains from being overt propaganda or driven by a specific agenda.
Nana Patekar is unquestionably the shining star of this production. His razor-sharp one-liners, commanding demeanor, and unyielding attitude are bound to captivate you, holding your attention firmly throughout the film. At some point, you'll find yourself deeply connecting with his character, perhaps recalling your own experiences with bosses as you witness his captivating antics. With unwavering conviction, Patekar brings his character to life, infusing the narrative with the pulsating energy of his powerful dialogue delivery. His performance adds a riveting dimension to the story
Among the ensemble cast, Pallavi Joshi, in the role of Mrs. Abraham, delivers a commendable performance, though at times, her accent may feel a bit overdone. On the other hand, Raima Sen's portrayal comes across as somewhat robotic, leaving her character's essence elusive until the very end. Adding a backstory or some nuanced layers to her character would have enhanced her role significantly. Meanwhile, Anupam Kher, Girija Oak, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Sapthami Gowda, and Mohan Kapur all live up to audience expectations, displaying unwavering sincerity and dedication to their respective characters.
One aspect that consistently gnawed at me was the excessively melodramatic background music, particularly during intense scenes, where it felt as if a person were struggling to catch their breath. Furthermore, one particular song failed to resonate effectively. Additionally, certain subplots, such as the monkey-finding sequence, could have benefited from tighter editing. Lastly, the portrayal of women as heroic figures might have been more impactful with a subtler touch.
As a whole, 'The Vaccine War' is a complete package of drama, truth, information and good performances presented with conviction and sincerity.
Rating ***1/2 (3.5/5) stars