The Vaccine War Review: Points For Celebrating Female Scientists, But The Propaganda Becomes Unbearable!

First half was good!

The battle against the COVID-19 virus for two long years will always be an unforgettable period of human suffering. The uncertainty, pain and loss that each one of us faced during the pandemic is a nightmare that we will never want to live in again. However, the world especially India, successfully managed to fight a disease that we did not see coming. With the kind of population our country has, this was almost an impossible task, but the Indian scientists made it happen by achieving the impossible and rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines within a year. Vivek Agnihotri’s The Vaccine War is a film that brings to the audience, this lesser-known story about virologists and scientists whose utmost dedication as soldiers in a lab coat saved thousands of lives. With the star cast of Nana Patekar, Pallavi Joshi, Raima Sen, Mohan Kapur, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Girija Oak and Anupam Kher, The Vaccine War is based on the real-life story of how the Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute Of Virology together created the first indigenous vaccine of India-Covaxin. Here’s our review of this Vivek Agnihotri directorial that has a running time of 16o minutes.

Plot and Characters

Divided into 10 parts, The Vaccine War, written and directed by filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri,  takes us through the real-life incidents of how the Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Insitute Of Virology Pune (NIV) made India one of the few countries that got its own vaccine. The movie shows the important events that took place during this period, and how the top two science institutes of the country tackled each obstacle by sacrificing their days and nights. The Vaccine War has some real-life characters, like ICMR Director General Dr. Mohan Bhargava played by Nana Patekar, Pallavi Joshi is seen in the role of Dr. Abraham, the Director of NIV. Mohan Kapur plays Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, Head of Epidemiology & Communicable Diseases (ICM), Nivedita Bhattacharya as Indian researcher at NIV Dr Pragya Yadav, Girija Oak as Head Of Virology at ICMR Dr Nivedita Gupta, and finally Anupam Kher as Cabinet Secretary. Raima Sen plays a journalist (Rohini Singh Dhulia) who BTW is not a real-life character at all!

The Good Aspects

The Vaccine War has some good performances by Nana Patekar, Pallavi Joshi, Nivedita Bhattacharya and Girija Oak,  especially in the first half of the film. These actors really seem to have adapted to their roles well and have done an exceptional job of showcasing the mannerisms of their characters brilliantly! For me, Pallavi Joshi’s performance as the NIV director stands out in the film, as she portrayed the character’s emotional and vulnerable self beautifully. Despite the characters, The Vaccine War is also a good attempt to bring forth a film that celebrates the work of virologists and scientists and makes the audience aware of the capability that India has shown in medical research during the Pandemic. It also gives the women scientists the due credit behind making the country’s first indigenous vaccine. Through one-liner dialogues, the film also shows how the country’s medical researchers are undervalued, and these little moments become quite hard-hitting!

What Does Not Work?

Let’s begin with the character of Raima Sen as a journalist. To me, her character felt like a villain of a TV serial. In the attempt to show the concepts of media trials, corruption and bad journalism through Raima Sen’s character, Vivek Agnihotri tends to make it seem overdramatic and unrealistic. The film lags in the second half and turns to taking the patriotic route. However, because of a stretched plot after the interval that only revolves around conspiracies and fake news against Covaxin, the performances lose their impact. Compared to the first half in which the film educates the audience about our country’s vaccine, the second half seems to be heavy on propaganda. The narrative of the film suddenly changes to call out and shame people who were against India’s own vaccine and trusted more in foreign-made ones and this is done through Raima Sen’s character. In the second half, The Vaccine War also gives the reasons why India’s Government did not approve foreign vaccines in the country, and these aspects of the film become the sole reason why it starts to feel manipulative.

Also Read: The Vaccine War Trailer: Pallavi Joshi, Nana Patekar Lead Female Scientists’ Team To Develop Covid-19 Vaccine


Vivek Agnihotri’s film The Vaccine War is a good attempt to show and celebrate the contribution of our Indian scientists during the most difficult phase and crisis India has ever faced. In some moments, the film does a good job of enlightening the audience with information about India’s own COVID-19 vaccine, the different obstacles that came the way, and the selfless service of the medical researchers that had 70 per cent female workers. However, the running time is too long and especially after the second half, the film tends to become dramatic and the characters lose their charm. So much so, that it fails to arouse any strong feeling of patriotism and pride in the audience. The Vaccine War hit the theatres on September 28, Thursday, and well, it could be a better watch on OTT than theatres.

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Pragya Dubey

Pragya Dubey is an introvert who prefers expressing herself through words. She believes in logical arguments and watches thrillers to escape the mundane realities of life!

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