Many films often get recognition after OTT release, are you positive that The Vaccine War will score a similar fate?
I seriously can’t predict the future, but all I know is that this film has been highly appreciated by anybody who has seen it, and roughly 60 exhibitors who have been in the business for 60 years or more, have told me that they have never seen such a unanimous appreciation for a film like this in a long time.I have seen with my own eyes in theaters, people cry at least a minimum of six to seven times, and by the time the film ends, everybody’s sobbing. So one thing I know definitely, that whoever has seen it, not even one person has told me that they were not moved by the film. If it is coming on OTT, I have a very strong feeling that people generally like to watch these kinds of films, which have something to discover. Primarily, one is star-based big commercial masala films, they have their own market, But on OTT, I think people really appreciate discovering new facts or new ideas or some kind of mystery and stuff like that. And just as that film, I think, which will satisfy the viewers because it makes you emotional, plus it lets you know about an untold story which you don’t know at all. The third thing will make you very proud about our country in a very different way. I think it’s going to be very popular amongst housewives and working professional women, because this is one rare film which gives a very sincere tribute to the contribution of women in India’s growth.
Given a chance, is there anything you would have done differently with the movie?
I don’t think so. In fact, sometimes I wonder how I ended up making such a fabulous film, moving people all across continents. We screened this film in the US, and another 12 countries and every single screening was jam-packed, and people were standing, sitting on the steps and crying, and the same reaction we received in India. There was not even one screening anywhere in the world where the reaction has been different. So, at this point in time, I don’t think I would like to make it in any other way because this film cannot be made in any other way as it’s based on the true story of Indian scientific victory.
Which is the best review you received for The Vaccine War?
It’s very difficult for me to say that because most of the people have reacted in the same way and all those reviews and everything are out in the market. But I would like to mention a couple of reviews, one which came from an American Congressman who after seeing the film, said that he will never ever forget the story about the sacrifice of Indian women, and I’m very proud of that. He said that because the film shows a very different side of women without blowing any trumpet of power. So I felt that if a film like this, which is a purely Indian film, can move an American Congressman who has no idea about India and India’s culture, then we have done our job. Besides that, overall reactions were – I want to run home, and I want to hug my mother and say ‘thank you’; this was a very common reaction. I think it’s difficult because if you had spoken to me about ‘The Kashmir Files,’ I can tell you which are the most unique reactions, but this film had a unanimous and similar experience throughout. Everybody commonly said, “Oh, we didn’t know the story,” and “We are lucky that we did not miss it.”
You seem to have recovered the budget of 10 crore after the theatrical release and digital rights of The Vaccine War, does it feel like a relief as a producer?
From a business point of view, I think the film is superlative. I don’t think that if you make 100 crore films, you can make this kind of thing. Our model of our production house is very different; whatever money we make from the box office, we put it back into the research of our next film. With God’s blessings and everybody’s love and blessings, whatever money we have made, we are putting in our next film and that’s how we want to grow. We want one film to fund the next film. The Vaccine War was made on a small budget and when we started making this film, the initial idea was to release it directly on OTT because it’s definitely a more OTT-friendly film – sit at home and watch and understand with your kids and family. To take your kids and family to watch a science film, that’s about something which we suffered from recently, it’s not a very family outing kind of scenario. After we received a lot of appreciation, I realised that it’s very important that we release it in the theaters because only then it is recognised as a proper feature film. This way, it will also be eligible for awards like Indian Panorama where it has been selected. If the film is good, you can send it to the Oscars. Therefore, we decided to release it in limited theaters. However, we were never expecting the kind of business the film did. I never thought that it would do something like that. You know, the second week’s business was bigger than the first week and so on. It has empowered the younger generation and the audiences to understand science and believe in Indian scientists.
After the humongous success of The Kashmir Files, were you disheartened by the response to The Vaccine War; have you reflected on the reason for it?
It is just like comparing apples with oranges. The Kashmir Files was a different film and had a different purpose. The idea was to take it to the masses and make every child, youngster, and everybody understand that problem. The Kashmir Files is something that definitely has more top-of-mind concern among 1.4 billion Indians than anything else. I can say that as far as return on investment is concerned, I think, to us as producers, The Vaccine War is at par with The Kashmir Files because it was a very small budget film. We made it very quickly and we did pretty good business. The comparison of The Kashmir Files and The Delhi Files is a genuine comparison because both are of the same genre, both are massy films and address the entire nation. A niche film like this, which is a very specific niche film, is India’s first bioscience film, you can’t compare a political country based film with a bioscience film.
If you have to ask viewers to watch the film on OTT…
I would say just watch it as a film, which will give you goose pimples, make you cry, make you laugh, and in the end, make you proud of yourself, your mother, and our scientists. You will feel more confident and inspired by this film. If you are a parent, then your children will thank you for showing this to them, if you are a young adult and show it to your parents, they will thank you for recommending this film. This is the reason why you should see it, and if you don’t see it, you will miss a very important chapter of our history. The people who have seen the film will have knowledge of what you may not have, and you will miss that opportunity.
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