'Vinny' needs a lawyer in India

'Banda' story too close for Fox's comfort

NEW DELHI -- Another Bollywood outfit has been put on notice regarding an unauthorized remake.

BR Films has been served a legal notice by Fox over the upcoming release "Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai" (This Guy Is Cool), based on Fox's 1992 comedy "My Cousin Vinny," starring Joe Pesci. But the veteran Indian banner insists it obtained permission.

"We had officially informed Fox back in August 2007 that we wanted to make an Indian film based on the idea of 'My Cousin Vinny,' " BRF managing director Ravi Chopra said Wednesday. "They sent us an e-mail giving their consent, and that's why we went ahead with our production, which is now ready for release."

Fox offered no comment. But according to a source, the studio was aware BRF was making a movie based on the idea of "Vinny" but did not grant it the right to use protected elements from "Vinny" or to make references to the film in the press for the new movie. Fox is asking the court to enjoin the movie's release because BRF is making unauthorized use of the original film.

"Banda" is toplined by local star Govinda and co-stars Lara Dutta and Sushmita Sen.

In 2007, Chopra told The Hollywood Reporter that "in principle, Fox has given us approval to make an adaptation of the film, and we are now in the final stages of working out the contract and legalities."

Asked whether Fox and BRF had reached financial terms during the discussions in 2007, Chopra said, "When Fox gave us the go-ahead in an e-mail, they didn't ask for any financial terms."

Chopra said "the matter will now probably go to court, where we will contest this matter."

The Fox notice follows a similar one by Warner Bros. warning local producers against any attempt to re-make "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." Local media reports said Bollywood producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah was shooting a Hindi film titled "Action Replay," starring top actor Akshay Kumar, whose character reportedly goes through reverse aging.