Shilpa steals show in UK parliament
London, February 7
Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, revelling in her newfound fame after winning the British reality television show, ''Celebrity Big Brother'', personally thanked Prime Minister Tony Blair for his support following a racist-bullying row at a six-minute meeting held here today.
The winner, who was tormented by a few fellow contestants on the live programme, said Blair had been ''very, very sweet'' and gave her a portrait of the parliament signed by himself and his wife, Cherie.
The glamorous actress, wearing a white sari, caused a media storm in the parliament as scores of Indian and British journalists pursued her, to the distress of parliamentary officials who enforce strict rules on visitors.
''He said I carried myself with utmost dignity and that he was sorry for what I went through in the (Big Brother) house,'' Shetty said to 80-odd reporters who had gathered outside the parliament.
A planned news conference inside the building was shelved by parliamentary gatekeepers citing security concerns. 
Earlier, Shetty watched Blair perform in the weekly session of the prime minister's question time, during which Blair condemned racism in all its forms in response to a lawmaker's question. Shetty emerged victorious from the Big Brother House last month after being subjected for weeks to disparaging remarks from some fellow contestants that sparked international uproar. She told reporters that parliamentarians were much more polite than her fellow contestants. 
''I expected the session to be boring, but I actually quite enjoyed it,'' she said of her visit, that included meetings with other ministers, lunch with lawmakers and several photo calls.Shetty confirmed she will be publishing a book of her Big Brother experiences but denied rumours on entering Indian politics.
''I've never been politically inclined. Nobody has spoken to me about joining any party,'' she added. 
Asked about her feelings towards her Big Brother tormenters, who have been vilified in the British press, she said she bore no grudges. ''I have forgiven them and have moved on. I request the media also to move on. I don't want them to suffer,'' she said.Blair's spokesman later said he had been pleased to meet Shetty, pointing out that her triumph had underlined the fact that there is no room for racism in Britain.

Shilpa Shetty wins Big Brother
London, January 29
Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty today emerged the winner on Celebrity Big Brother, bagging the top prize money of £ 100,000 (nearly Rs 85 lakh), riding on sympathy from UK viewers over racial taunts she suffered from fellow contestants.
Shilpa was elected the winner last night by 63 per cent of voters, pipping Michael Jackson’s singer brother Jermaine.
With this victory, Shilpa would earn several bounties, besides £ 350,000 pounds (nearly Rs 3 crore) paid to her by the producers to participate in the show.
She has been offered a Hollywood film by Fox pictures, a book deal, endorsements for clothes, cosmetics and jewellery, a TV documentary, the position of host of a cricket reality show and an awards ceremony, and an exclusive interview with The Sun tabloid fetching her £ 100,000.
The 31-year-old actress won the public’s affection during an extraordinary four weeks in which she was the victim of bullying by fellow housemates Jade Goody, Jo O’Meara and Danielle Lloyd.
She was crowned the winner after finalists Jermaine Jackson, Dirk Benedict, Ian H. Watkins, Danielle Lloyd and Jack Tweed were all evicted during the show’s grand finale last night.
A show spokesman said Jack Tweed received 3.2 per cent of the votes cast, Danielle Lloyd got 3.3 per cent and Ian Watkins received 5.3 per cent.
Screaming with surprise, Shilpa burst into tears as Davina McCall, the host of the show, announced the news.
“Chicken curry rules! Thank you so much!” she yelled as she was led out of the house by Davina. 
“I just want to thank the people of Great Britain for giving me the opportunity of making my country proud,” Shilpa said.
“I don’t want to sound cliched but it’s truly been quite a roller-coaster... the highs, the lows, and each one has taught me so much,” Shilpa said. She initially played down the rows, saying her biggest shock in the house was “to cook”.
Shilpa looked shocked when Davina told her the fighting had caused a furore. But then she said: “I kind of had an inkling but I’d love to hear about some news”. She then watched a footage from the house, including Jade’s diary room entries. But in a short speech, she said she didn’t want Jade to be branded a racist.
“Things happen, people make mistakes and we all learn from them,” Shilpa said.
“But I can say one thing for sure, Jade didn’t mean to be racist. She isn’t a racist. I really don’t want to leave England putting anyone in trouble. This country has given me so much”. Her response drew cheers and clapping from the studio audience.
Asked what it would take for US television star Dirk Benedict to win her over, she said: “He would need to be at least 28 years younger and start eating chicken curry”. Shilpa said her favourite experiences in the house were singing with the “Jackson 5” and the assault course task.
“Going into the slush, it was horrid,” she said.
Davina asked her finally to sum up her experience in three words, to which she replied: “Incredible, overwhelming and...” and then following an interjection from the audience, added “chicken curry rules”.


Fans of Shilpa Shetty protesting "Celebrity Big Brother" on Wednesday in Patna, India.
Shilpa case: Blair opposes racism 
London, January 17
The alleged bullying and racist abuse of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on a popular UK reality TV show has sparked off a controversy in Britain, with Prime Minister Tony Blair saying racism should be opposed in all its forms when the issue was raised in British Parliament.
Labour MP Keith Vaz, who tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons on the issue yesterday, asked Blair today whether broadcasters should take care not to allow such material to go on air.
“I have not seen the particular programme in question and cannot comment on it,” Mr Blair said, adding that “We should oppose racism in all its forms.” One of the sponsors of Channel 4’s most popular show “Celebrity Big Brother,” in which Shilpa and nine other stars are participants, threatened to pull out as the issue figured in the House of Commons.
British mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse said it was reviewing its sponsorship of “Big Brother” and did not rule out abandoning the arrangement. Chief executive Charles Dunstone said the company was “talking to Channel 4. The sponsorship is constantly under review. Clearly, we are against racism.” Meanwhile, some of Shilpa’s fellow housemates have received email threats. The Hertfordshire police said “Two emails have been received by the TV studios that contain unspecified threats against a number of the housemates. Police are currently looking into the emails.” NRI actress and women rights activist Meera Syal led an unprecedented wave of criticism against the attacks on 31-year-old Shilpa, who was reduced to tears after allegedly being taunted about her skin colour, accent and cooking.
The UK’s official media watchdog Ofcom said tapes of the incidents would be scoured and complaints carefully investigated.
Shilpa, one of the nine celebrities taking part in the reality show, is being targeted by some housemates because she is an Indian, according to complaints received by Ofcom.
The contestants have been locked up in a house since January 2 and are being filmed on how well they handle the frictions of daily life and get their fellow housemates’ votes of confidence.
“There is a very thin line between what is entertainment and a vile spectacle and I think we are in that area now. What this treatment of Shilpa has done is remind a lot of Asian people in Britain of the type of uncomfortable treatment they’ve received themselves over the years,” Syal said.
Ofcom, the media watchdog, said it had received 6,600 complaints, the highest since the BBC screened Jerry Springer - The Opera. It said that it would investigate whether the programme had breached broadcasting rules forbidding discriminatory language or treatment.
Carphone Warehouse has been sponsoring the show since 2004. It pays an estimated three million pounds a year for “Big Brother” and “Celebrity Big Brother.” Vaz yesterday tabled a Commons motion calling on Channel 4 to take “urgent action to remind housemates that racist behaviour is unacceptable.” He said, “I have been contacted by constituents who have expressed concern that apparently racist comments have passed without any response. We should not tolerate this on a programme that is watched by millions of people.”
Viewers believe that Shilpa Shetty is being victimised on the reality show. She has allegedly been called a “dog” and contestants have complained about her touching their food.
Pop singer Jo O’Meara allegedly said Indians were thin because they were always ill as a result of undercooking food.
Shetty’s accent has been mocked and she was asked if she lived in a shack. Channel 4 received 2,000 emails and calls.

Reality of Big brother

05.01.2007. Rajesh Chopra. New delhi.
Shilpa Shetty in Big Brother's House

She has reportedly been paid £3,00,000
LONDON:'Graceful', 'beautiful' and 'lovely Indian lady' were the words repeatedly used to describe Shilpa Shetty as she became the first Bollywood actress to enter the now famous portals of the Big Brother house – the mother of all reality shows.  'India unbound' entered British drawing rooms (on Wednesday night) via the comely figure of Shilpa Shetty, as the actress bravely became a contestant in the addictive if often asinine reality soap opera 'Celebrity Big Brother' on prime time UK terrestrial television. 

Shetty, who started the 25-day marathon fight to be favourite contestant of the millions who tune in every day and vote, explained the reason she agreed to participate as follows: being an ambassador for Bollywood and Asian people and junking the myth they are not endearingly fun. 

This is the first time a Hindi film star or indeed, an Indian straight from India is on a British television show that routinely draws several million viewers night after night and is guaranteed to be a 'water-cooler talking point' in offices up and down the land. 

Shetty's agent, Jasvir 'Jazz' Barton told Liveindia on Thursday that the actress began the Celebrity Big Brother contest as she meant to be going on - looking suitably jhatak-matak in a glamorous pink-and-green Tarun Tahliani creation of a sari and with a firm resolve to be "dignified" during a show that sometimes rejoices in contestants plumbing the depths of depravity for the entertainment of the general public. 

Shetty is one of 11 contestants on the show. They include a former Miss Great Britain who was deposed for her sexual antics with a judge; the little-known brother of pop star Michael Jackson; so-called "pop totty" such as former British band members and a 79-year-old film director. 

Just as with the recently-launched Indian version, 'Big Boss', the housemates are meant to live under relentless 24/7 public scrutiny, in a time-free zone, whilst getting up the worst shenanigans they can. Members of the public vote to evict the celebrities one by one from the house. 

Barton said it was likely Shetty would cook a "curry" for her housemates and would probably appear in "a mix of Asian and Western clothing" just to highlight her origins "and culture". 

Channel 4 television, which has made loads money and racked up headlines and column inches with four previous instalments of a show that is sometimes derisively described as the last chance saloon for has-beens and wannabes, told this paper, "Celebrity Big Brother is all about the dynamics of the housemates as a whole, so we always aim to get the most interesting and varied group of people possible. We are delighted to have Shilpa in our line-up. Shilpa is part of a varied and eclectic bunch of celebrities who, in the confines of the house, will undoubtedly entertain and surprise us. The unpredictability of the mix of this year's celebrity housemates makes it the line-up our most exciting yet." Shilpa has reportedly been paid £300,000 to live in the fish bowl where cameras watch and telecast live every movement made by the celebrities for just under a month, but Big Brother has not confirmed the amount and it is believed that this year the highest fee paid has been no more than £65,000.

Channel 4 proudly added that audience ratings for the opening show of the series peaked at eight million viewers, an increase on last year's launch night, which drew 7.6 m viewers. The soaring audience figures make Celebrity Big Brother one of Britain's most popular television programmes ever. Shetty is seen to be the "surprise" element of a show that relies on variety and the oddball quotient to spark viewer interest. 

Barton said Shetty viewed the show as a "huge opportunity...a blank template for the UK market...a challenge to become a name in a country where only British Asians know her despite the fact that she is a huge star in India". 

But Shetty, who entered the Celebrity Big Brother house late on Wednesday to the customary boos, jeers and catcalls from members of the public gathered outside, appears to be faring very badly in the betting stakes of who would win the show or, in characteristic 'Big Brother' reckoning, who would be the first to kiss a housemate. 

Even though the show is sometimes called the low route for B and C-list celebrities to hit Obscureville, it can end with the winner landing a recording contract and millions of pounds. Shetty's aide, Barton, an East African Indian from Kenya who grew up in Britain and describes herself as a fan of Bollywood, said the actress's presence on the show would do Indians proud by simply being available to British audiences for nearly a month. 

But in a sign that Celebrity Big Brother may be a minefield for Shetty to negotiate, speculation is already riding high about the "sexual intrigue" that will make the show. Shetty is reportedly due to execute a belly dance along with former beauty queen Danielle Lloyd to keep pulses racing and the celebrities are also to be strapped to special monitors to determine who is the most sexually frustrated. They will be sent on competitive speed dates and forced to flirt with unsuspecting house mates as part of a challenge, which is the show's usual format. 

Shetty, who will be watched, her actions judged and any gaffes splashed all over Britain's vicious unforgiving tabloid media, is thought to have set herself up for a rough ride by agreeing to join Celebrity Big Brother. 

But if she had butterflies in her tummy at the prospect of laying on a revealing, sometimes risqué televisual feast for a jaded Britain, Shetty showed no sign of it on her first foray into the UK's public consciousness. Her chief worry, she confessed publicly was getting through January without the usual entourage, which cooks, cleans, washes her clothes and generally keeps her in the Bollywood style to which she is accustomed. 

Meanwhile, in an acid sample of the sort of comment she can expect, Shetty was described as follows on at least one popular Celebrity Big Brother internet chat forum: "Shilpa Shetty - Who the hell is Shilpa Shetty? You wouldn't be asking that if you lived in India, because Shilpa Shetty is the most famous Indian that has ever walked the face of the earth. We know this because Shilpa Shetty told us about 80 times that nobody in India is more famous than she is, and the look in her eye said she knows people who'd kill you if you thought otherwise. All this plus she owns a dog called Champagne. Could Shilpa be the most deluded person on this year's Celebrity Big Brother? There's every chance. She got booed on the way into the Celebrity Big Brother house, which proves that even though nobody knows her, they don't seem to like her all that much either. Current Celebrity Big Brother betting odds - 16/1. Bookmakers who are expected to make millions over the next month from betting on the programme have given Shilpa 10/1 chance of winning the programme, which is normally done by a popular vote.



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