Legendary singer Elton John has slammed Russian movie distributors after they censored his biopic "Rocketman" and excluded several scenes showing gay sex and affection from the film.
The singer and the makers of "Rocketman" issued a joint statement saying they rejected the censorship "in the strongest possible terms", reported people.com.
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"We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor 'Rocketman' for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today," the statement read.
"Paramount Pictures have been brave and bold partners in allowing us to create a film which is a true representation of Elton's extraordinary life, warts and all," the statement continued.
"That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people," it read.
"We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world."
As per a report in people.com, a spokesperson for Central Partnership, the film's Russian distributor confirmed to TASS, a news agency, that the film had "been modified to make it comply with Russian law".
According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Rocketman" will release in Russia next Thursday.
But at a Moscow preview of the film five minutes were cut and the closing credits were changed to exclude references to John's life with his partner David Furnish and their two children.
Russian film critic Anton Dolin wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday that "all scenes of kisses, sex and oral sex between men have been cut" from the film.
The film's star, Taron Egerton, responded to the censorship on Instagram writing: "I am crestfallen that the decision was made to censor our movie for the Russian market."
He added: "I'm even more disappointed to hear about it second-hand today on the day of our domestic release. I in no way condone this decision and feel disappointed I wasn't made aware and given the chance to fight this move. Love is love. No compromises."
Described as an "epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of John's breakthrough years", the film follows the journey of his transformation from a shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into an international superstar.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher, "Rocketman" also stars Richard Madden as John Reid, John's manager and one-time lover, and Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, John's famed songwriting partner.
"Rocketman" released in India on May 31. The Paramount Pictures movie is exclusively distributed in India by Viacom18 Motion Pictures. [IANS]