Agnihotri says he made The Vaccine War so that people, down the line, know how India created its own vaccine
Pallavi Joshi fronts the film
Over a year after The Kashmir Files (2022), Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is ready with The Vaccine War. With the film, the director wants people to celebrate India’s achievement of making its own vaccine to combat the COVID-19 virus. “It’s also a story about our women scientists, and the shift in the narrative from ‘India can’t do it’ to ‘India can do it’. I made it [so] that 30 years later, people know what happened during its making,” he says.
Through the Anupam Kher, Pallavi Joshi, Raima Sen and Nana Patekar-starrer, the director also offers his take on the “politics” that, he says, surrounded the vaccine’s creation. “At that time, people were trying to create doubts about our own vaccine. Akhilesh Yadav [initially] said he won’t take the ‘BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] vaccine,’” says the director, whose The Kashmir Files won two National Awards last month.
Last year, the movie sparked controversy at the International Film Festival of India when Israeli filmmaker and jury head Nadav Lapid described it as “a propaganda and vulgar movie”. Tell him that he is labelled a propaganda filmmaker, and Agnihotri retaliates, saying, “Name one director who is not a propaganda filmmaker. Everyone is propagating a certain idea or ideology. Like, some [director] says there is nothing but love. Is that true?” He adds that the label attached to him makes it tough for him to get financial backing. “The Vaccine War is a solo production, made with our own resources.”