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Tuesday, August 24, 1999 Published at 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK

World: South Asia

India bleeps 'shag' out of Powers

Austin Powers: "Too crude for Indian audiences"

By Daniel Lak in Delhi

The film Censor Board in India has ruled that the most crucial word in the new Austin Powers movie must be cut or bleeped over before the film can be released in the country.

The word is "shag", which officials say is too crude for Indian audiences.

[ image: Felicity BLEEPwell]
Felicity BLEEPwell
No-one is quite sure how many times the word is used in the second Austin Powers spy spoof - The Spy Who Shagged Me - but it won't be heard a single time.

Whenever the word comes up in dialogue - or in the names of characters such as Felicity Shagwell, or in the case of Austin Powers' "Shaguar" car - it will bleeped out.

Even the title will be simply "Austin Powers 2".

The film's distributor, Warner Brothers, is not challenging the cuts and the Censor Board has cleared the movie for release on 3 September.

[ image: Mike Myers at the Cannes festival]
Mike Myers at the Cannes festival
Despite the lifting some years ago of a long-standing ban on kissing in Indian films, the board is still very strict with depiction or discussion of sex - even in comic innuendo.

Most recently, cuts were ordered in the British film, Elizabeth - though the film's Indian director, Shakur Kapoor, is still refusing to make them.

India produces around a thousand films of its own year, but Hollywood and other English language movies are becoming increasingly popular.

Titanic was last year's box-office leader, and international distributors are clearly keen to make even more of an impact on a country where 15 million people go to the cinema every day.

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