The Vaccine War a tribute to real superheroes, says Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri

The Vaccine War trailer launch was also graced by the real-life superhero, Dr. Balram Bhargava (fourth from left). Photo: Rajiv Vijayakar 

The Vaccine War, called “India’s first bio-science cinematic endeavor,” releases on September 28. At the trailer launch of the film on September 12 at the Cinepolis, we not only got a glimpse of the electric trailer, but a peak into how the film has already been received in USA, along with the much-publicized performance of a song at Times Square, with a seven-minute video.

Later, writer-director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri made several potent and cogent remarks. For one, he said that this film was 100 percent true, as stated in the film’s poster, which was a legal requisite for the censors in India. In The Kashmir Files, he had taken liberties by integrating several characters into one, though every incident shown in that film had been real.

He also emphasized that his movies were of the kind seen before the NRI culture took over Indian filmmakers’ psyches. “My film is about real-life superheroes and, in this case, women-power. It is the kind of cinema we used to make about the common man and his heroic activities, which was then loved a lot. This time, even the negative journalist I have shown is for real, as are the scientists who raced against time to make the vaccine. The other detractors are also real people. I will not take names, but everyone knows who the enemies of our nation are.”

The tag-line of the film is that “India can do it!” and a guest of honor at the trailer launch was Dr. Balram Bhargava, a cardiologist, medical educationist and innovator who is currently serving as the Chief of Cardiothoracic Centre, AIIMS, New Delhi. It was this real-life superhero who had spearheaded the mission.

The film showcases the dedication of Dr. Bhargava and his largely-female team of scientists who worked against time to develop the indigenous vaccine that saved live not only in India but also globally. The vaccine was developed by Bharat  Biotech in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research – National Institute of Virology.

The film does not talk about Covid per se but only about the passion and challenges faced by the ingenious scientists. In a reply to a question put forward by, Dr. Bhargava agreed that the political will was there “from an immensely-supportive leadership” to achieve this impossible-seeming feat.

Dr. Bhargava also praised Nana Patekar, who plays his character. Vivek added that Nana was the only choice for the role as he had the necessary power in his persona to essay Dr. Bhargava and had never given a mediocre performance in his entire career. Nana, however, had been apprehensive that he could not have said the considerable English needed for the character, but surrendered to his director. “Whatever good is there in my performance is due to Vivek, and if anything is lacking, it is my fault!” Nana stated.

Nana made a general comment about movies today and stated that if only bad movies or bad songs are made, sooner or later, people begin to call it good cinema or music. But there is a difference, he stressed. And it’s time that people were exposed to something genuinely good. He took a jibe at a recent blockbuster as a film that was being liked because of this false parameter. And he obviously could not have meant Gadar 2 as he has been the narrator in it!

The launch was also attended by producer and actress Pallavi Joshi, Vivek’s wife, and a bevy of actors who play the scientists besides her—Girija Oak, Nivedita Bhattacharya and Sapthami Gowda, besides Mohan Kapur. Anupam Kher, as the Prime Minister, and Raima Sen play key roles. Udaysingh Mohite is the cinematographer and the music is by Rohit Sharma. Tapan Jyoti Dutta is the music producer and background music composer. Editing is by Shankh Rajadhyaksha.

Girija Oak, stated Pallavi, was the only one of the team who had actually studied Bio-Science herself and so helped the team with the pronunciation of the technical terms. As a parting shot, Vivek stressed that few parents encouraged their children to take up the field of Virology, which was a key necessity, instead of just standard careers.



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