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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007, 11:05 GMT
Indian press debates Big Brother row
Shilpa Shetty headlines

The Indian media has reacted cautiously to the alleged racism experienced by Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on the Big Brother reality TV show in the UK.

The news made it to the front pages of Thursday newspapers, but most warned against overreaction and there were strong words of advice for Ms Shetty.

'Racist attacks trigger outrage', headlined Hindustan Times on its front page.

'Big Brother India strikes,' chimed in The Telegraph on two Indian ministers protesting against the 'racist slurs' faced by the Bollywood actress.

'Big Brother India Backs Shilpa In UK,' echoed The Asian Age.

Shilpa Shetty has paid the price for trying to desperately seek the approval of the West
Mahesh Bhatt, DNA
'Big Brother's Brown shadow on Brown', headlined The Economic Times on how the issue was turning into an "embarrassment" for the visiting UK Chancellor of Exchequer Gordon Brown.

The Indian Express struck a sceptical note saying that there was "no need for concerted national outrage over what undoubtedly seem to be racist jibes against an Indian actor participating in a British reality TV programme".

"...the TV programme in question is designed to bring out the worst in participants. It can be race, it can be class, it can be gender, it can be any marker, real or perceived..," the newspaper said in an editorial.

The paper also sounded a note of caution against overreaction by saying that "Indian responses should also factor in our own record on prejudice".

"If racism is a fact in many interactions in British society, prejudice is a quotidian reality of Indian social life".

Hindustan Times echoed the same sentiment in its editorial.

"However abhorrent these remarks are, Shilpa went into this with her eyes wide open. A successful woman like her should have been able to give back as good as he got. We are no strangers to racism. True, we don't want to be at the receiving end. But we are no less racist within the country," it said.

The Telegraph also mocked Delhi's reaction to the incident.

"If Britain's Channel 4 is scouting for publicists, it need look no further than Delhi's corridors of power", it said.

Was it wise for Ms Shetty to have agreed to take part in the show? Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt in Mumbai's DNA newspaper clearly thinks not.

"Why do we go on bended knees and lick their boots?" he asks.

"I believe no one can insult you without your permission. Shilpa Shetty has paid the price for trying to desperately seek the approval of the West."

"It is pathetic how we can go on bended knees and lick the boots of Westerners in an effort to be part of their world."

In its editorial, the newspaper said "Shetty has to find the attitude and the chutzpah to face the comments - racially pejorative or just downright bitchy - from her 'friends' in the house [because] Big Brother is all about running the other contestants down in order to get on top."

"And we, as viewers back home, need to understand that since she asked for it by signing on, she needs to deal with it."

Delhi's Today newspaper reported that the issue had become the top talking points in Indian blogs, and Shetty was getting a lot of support from "bloggers who are clearly Briton and white".

"You may be hard-pressed to recall any of Shilpa Shetty's films, but today her name is on everybody's lips... indeed we have to clean our own backyards before pointing fingers. That seemed to be the message from Indian bloggers," the newspaper said.




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