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Saturday, July 31, 1999 Published at 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK

World: South Asia

Indian censors block Elizabeth

Elizabeth: Sex and beheading too much for the censor

By Daniel Lak in Delhi

The premiere of the British film Elizabeth has been postponed in India - the home country of the director, Shekhar Kapoor - because the censors say several scenes must be cut.

The national Censor Board has refused to allow the film to be distributed until the scenes - including a beheading and a sex scene - are cut.

[ image: Phoolan Devi: From gang-leader to MP]
Phoolan Devi: From gang-leader to MP
The sex scene is not particularly explicit, but it was enough to offend conservative sensibilities on the occasionally fickle Censor Board.

Mr Kapoor says he will not make the cuts.

He and the film's stars, Cate Blanchett and Joseph Fiennes, are due to arrive in Delhi later this weekend for ceremonies to launch the film on the Indian market.

The premiere in Delhi next week, to which the Indian president and prime minister had been invited, has been cancelled.

Critical acclaim for Kapoor

Indian cinema is proud of Shekhar Kapoor, even though he makes many of his films abroad these days.

His success with Elizabeth in Britain and America, and his Academy Award nominations, have increased his stature at home immeasurably.

He is already well known for the controversial but respected film Bandit Queen, about the life of the Indian criminal gang leader turned politician, Phoolan Devi.

But there is widespread embarrassment here at the fate of his current film Elizabeth.

Critics had observed that his finely honed sense of politics and the absurdity of human behaviour - something very important in the best Indian cinema - had stood him in good stead in making Elizabeth.

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