The Telegraph, 06.01.07
Shilpa Shetty appeared chuffed to be asked to do Channel 4’s popular reality show, Big Brother. She blushed and appeared coy, before asking all Indians to feel proud because of her presence in the house. Big Brother is the show whose clone is now being aired in India. What exactly do we have to feel proud about? Perhaps Shetty is suggesting that watching an Indian woman sleep in the same room as an alcoholic and rockstar is something to feel proud about. Or perhaps the fact that she will probably be asked to play the role of a dog or a cat (as MP George Galloway found out last year to his cost) and be ridiculed on British television. Or is it because she now has the opportunity to add ill-informed quips about Indian history and culture, both of which she is now supposed to represent? British television-shows like Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing, Weakest Link and Who Wants to be a Millionaire already have their copies in India, speaking a lot about our originality. People in England have no idea who Shetty is. Indeed, all that the British make of Bollywood is that it is an industry that dishes out copies of Western movies with generous doses of dance and songs. Shetty will have plenty of opportunity to enlighten them perhaps, and be the object of laughter here in England. It is futile to attempt to explain to the curious public that she by no means represents India, but she is all we have got now. Instead of feeling proud, I am aghast and shocked at her presence in the show. If she pulls some “impressive” trick on Big Brother for the British public to mock, it would be us Indians on the streets facing the banter.