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Exclusive | Vivek Agnihotri on chances of sending The Vaccine War to Oscars: If I want to, I'll go directly

Updated on: 02 October,2023 03:39 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Tanmayi Savadi |

In an exclusive interview with, Vivek Agnihotri spoke about his film The Vaccine War and whether he wants to send it to the Oscars

Exclusive | Vivek Agnihotri on chances of sending The Vaccine War to Oscars: If I want to, I'll go directly


Key Highlights

  1. In an exclusive interview with Mid-Day, Vivek Agnihotri spoke about The Vaccine War
  2. The filmmaker reacted to whether he would like to send the film to the Oscars
  3. Vivek revealed if he plans to make his own movie universe in the future

"The Vaccine War was like a detox for us after enduring pain during the making of The Kashmir Files," said Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri as he discussed his latest release with in an exclusive interview. The filmmaker hoped that the country's first bio-science film would inspire the youth to choose science as a career and contribute to India's scientific development. 

When asked Vivek whether box office figures and commercial success matter to him more than critical appreciation and awards, he said, "There are 3-4 milestones in every filmmaker's career. Commercial success is one of them. For example, our film is made on a budget of Rs. 12.5 crores. I have to collect at least Rs. 25 crores at the box office to break even. Whatever is earned above that is my profit. Yes, I do expect that and for two reasons. If my films are successful commercially, I will be able to make more movies that are off-beat. People aren't easily willing to invest in unconventional projects."

He further added, "Critical acclaim is of two types. In the first case, you pay money to critics to write good about your films. If you don't they won't. Secondly, people who matter to me are the public intellectuals, thinkers, writers, columnists, and those who make grand narratives of the country. It's a great achievement when they appreciate your film. The Tashkent Files was a sleeper hit but my earlier film, Buddha In A Traffic Jam, didn’t work commercially. Whoever watched it, loved it a lot. They promoted it through word of mouth and made it a cult film. That gave me confidence. I never think much about awards. I neither go for ceremonies. Almost every award function wanted me for The Kashmir Files but I refused. With The Vaccine War, even if 12 youngsters get inspired to become scientists, that would be a real success."

The Vaccine War was a good detox

Calling The Vaccine War a detox film after The Kashmir Files, Vivek revealed how the film was conceptualised. "We were going to Kashmir for The Kashmir Files but the lockdown was imposed and the entire team was confined to their homes. In March 2020, people were worried about the future. A few months later, there was hope as our scientists developed the vaccine. We were back to our normal lives. We don't know about the people who made this possible. They were never in the media. While we were researching for the film we learnt that not many Indians know about our scientific achievements. After The Kashmir Files, we had the liberty to make The Vaccine War. Instead of being trapped in making The Kashmir Files 2 or The Delhi Files, we thought it would be a great way to detox from the pain we suffered from the making of The Kashmir Files. It was a good detox to tell this inspiring story. What motivated us was the fact that most of the contribution came from women who don’t get their due."

The Vaccine War getting tax-free would be a bonanza

The Kashmir Files was declared tax-free in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Karnataka, Tripura and Goa. Vivek hoped the same for The Vaccine War. "It would be a bonanza if The Vaccine War gets tax-free but that wasn't the intention while making it," he added. 

If I have to go to the Oscar, I’ll go directly

Tovino Thomas' Malayalam blockbuster, 2018, based on the 2018 Kerala floods is India's official selection for the Oscars. Congratulating the team on the achievement, Vivek reacted to whether he would love to take The Vaccine War to the global platform. "We don't think of Oscars or any awards while making a film. For me, what matters the most is the National Award. I’m an Indian and believe in the top honour of my country. Our films are set in the Indian milieu and socio-political situation and to be recognised by the President is a matter of honour. It’s not that we make movies for a National Award but the themes of our films are better suited for that. If I have to go to the Oscar, I’ll go directly. Congratulations to 2018 for being the official selection for the Oscars. I'm happy that the best one has been chosen," Vivek shared.

Indian media is now understanding my template of filmmaking

Vivek spoke at length about his equation with the Indian media. He revealed people are now understanding his style of filmmaking which is far from conventional storytelling. "I’ve been making movies for a long time. There are times when the media likes you or doesn't appreciate you. Even filmmakers at times don't agree with the media. I make socio-political films and my agenda is that my movies should start a conversation. I have done films on controversial subjects in films like The Tashkent Files, The Kashmir Files and now, The Delhi Files, I will be dealing with the topic of Partition. People normally don't talk about these subjects fearing controversy but as a filmmaker, it is my duty to raise this issue and create awareness. I want my audience to do their research, and come up with their own conclusions. My films don’t have a conclusion. I leave them up to the audience. Media is finally understanding my style of filmmaking because previously they were accustomed to watching conclusive films. I have done docu-fiction films and more into investigative journalism (smiles). I have characters from both sides and want my audience to judge them. The Kashmir Files got polarised views and The Vaccine War also divides a line. The Vaccine War isn’t a jingoistic film; it celebrates ordinary Indians doing extraordinary things."

The filmmaker continued, "Most of the journalists, who come from smaller towns or even from Mumbai excluding those from South Bombay, love me. They’re more rooted in the Indian culture. Journalists who have an elite lens or look at my work from a particular lens will not like my films because it disrupts their supremacy and elitism."

Vivek often describes his films as non-Bollywood. Speaking about how he categorises The Vaccine War, he replied, "This is my most complete feature film. Whoever has seen it, said the film is a complete package of emotions. We have done 20 screenings of the film before its theatrical release and every person said it will make the audience feel proud of the women around them. I believe a film has to stimulate emotions and intelligence. I am not saying that I’m a complete filmmaker; I’m still a student and still learning."

The Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri Universe

With films like The Tashkent Files, The Kashmir Files and now, The Delhi Files, does he wish to create his own movie universe? He promptly replied, "You have to create a universe when you don’t have your own universe. People who see my films are my universe."

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