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20th Century Fox buys script,
to remake Munnabhai MBBS in English

Tanmaya Kumar Nanda in New York
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May 11, 2005 02:54 IST

In a first, 20th Century Fox has acquired the rights to the script of a Hindi film, the superhit Munnabhai [Images] MBBS. Speaking to in New York, Vidhu Viod Chopra, who produced and wrote the film, confirmed the deal.


"They have acquired it, and it's a great feeling," Chopra said. "Whenever we made a good film, people would say 'Oh this is a copy of a Hollywood film'. Now, this is the first time that a studio such as 20th Century Fox has bought a Hindi film to be remade into English, I think it's a great step forward for everybody who's Indian, it's a matter to be proud of."


However, he did not disclose the amount Fox is paying for the script, citing confidentiality, only saying that the amount is "unprecedented for them."


It is a deal with a lot of respect, let's say it is a respectable deal and as Indians, we should be proud that our cinema is being bought by the West."


Chopra, who has in the past made such hits as Parinda and 1942: A Love Story, turned writer-producer for the first time in 2003 with Munnabhai MBBS, a rollicking comedy about a gangster trying to get a degree in medicine that made it to the top of India's box office charts. .


Chopra's latest film as producer-writer, Parineeta [Images], an adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's Bengali classic novel, is scheduled for a June 10 release. The film starts Sunjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan [Images] and a debutante Vidya Balan [Images] in the lead role of Lolita.


"I have a new director, a new heroine, a new cameraman, a new music director, a new lyric-writer, it takes a lot of balls to spend that kind of money with all these new guys," Chopra says. "I have already spent over Rs 25 crore ($6.25 million) and still counting."


"I make movies like this so I can be proud of them, proud of the film, proud of the music," he said, adding that it took him a year and a half to write the script.


However, he admitted that comparisons to Bimal Roy's original were only to be expected and that "(we) are prepared for that. This is a free adaptation, and w call it that, we have brought the setting 50 years forward from 1914 when it was first written, and although it's still period, it's more contemporary period."

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