New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS): After Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri pulled off a sleeper hit last year with 'The Kashmir Files', which was as much a box-office success as it was hugely controversial, expectations were high from 'The Vaccine War', the director's take on the story of Covaxin.
'The Vaccine War', starring Nana Patekar and Pallavi Joshi in the lead roles, however, has had a terrible run in its initial four days at the box office.
The film, according to the trade website Sacnilk.com, has reported a net collection (that is, box office revenues minus 18% GST) of Rs 6 crore. The figure includes a projected net earning of Rs 2.5 crore on Sunday, which will only be confirmed on Monday.
Compare this with the Rs 27.15 crore 'The Kashmir Files' made on its opening weekend, after starting with Rs 3.55 crore on Day One. And of course, it ended up making Rs 250.41 crore, which sealed its positions as one of the top-grossing movies of 2022.
'The Vaccine War' has also fared poorly against its competition -- Pulkit Sharma-headlined 'Fukrey 3', which has netted Rs 28.3 crore, and 'Chandramukhi 2', the Tamil horror comedy starring Raghava Lawrence and Kangana Ranaut, which has earned Rs 17.46 crore.
Has Agnihotri overdone his propagandist style of filmmaking? Trade analysts are debating this question.
Unlike 'The Kashmir File', which was centred around an emotive and divisive issue bound to draw crowds to the cinemas (as did 'The Kerala Story' this year), 'The Vaccine War' doesn't have an 'enemy' who can get audiences charged up.
Investigative journalists asking uncomfortable questions about a vaccine doesn't match up to the drawing power of 'evil' JNU professors and jihadi terrorists. Agnihotri's films require an 'exciting' enemy, which 'The Vaccine War' doesn't have; moreover, opinion on Covaxin is divided, unlike on the issue of Kashmir.
It is not likely that 'The Vaccine War' will see any lift in its box office figures, unless politicians rally behind it (like the BJP top brass did in the case of 'The Kashmir Files'), but there are no signs of that happening yet.