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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 January 2007, 22:01 GMT
Will Big Brother boost Shilpa?
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Shilpa Shetty on Big Brother
Shetty on Big Brother - but her career is flagging

Celebrity Big Brother is possibly Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty's biggest hit to date.

None of the films she has acted in have won her the publicity or recognition that the reality TV show on Britain's Channel 4 has.

Just as well, because it certainly appears to have given a new lease of life to her career - though not in Bollywood where she made her name.

There are reports she might be asked to anchor a cricket show in the UK. Product endorsement contracts could also be in the offing.

'Hot now'

Shetty looks like being one of the most sought-after celebrities to walk out of the Big Brother house.

Her film career is certainly not looking up just because she has been in the news
Bollywood analyst Komal Nahta

But will she have every director and producer in Bollywood clamouring at her door, begging her to accept film projects once she returns home? Highly unlikely, say industry people.

Film director Deepak Tijori, who made the film Fareb (Deceit) with Shilpa Shetty, says the row over alleged racist remarks directed at the actress by other contestants would not help revive her Bollywood career.

"The market value of an Indian actor or actress is entirely dependent on the performance of his or her last film at the box office. Nothing else matters," he told the BBC News website.

Incidentally, the film, which also starred her younger sister Shamita and actor Manoj Bajpai, flopped badly and made huge losses.

Mr Tijori said on the back of the Big Brother publicity, Shetty could get herself an international agent and look abroad for work but none of this would make any difference to film-makers in India.

Another Bollywood director, Suneel Darshan, worked with the actress in 1999.

He said her being in the news would have a positive effect on a film career which has been flagging.

"A friend of mine was looking to cast an actress in his film and I said 'why not Shilpa?'

"His response was, 'yes, she's hot now'. This just gives you an idea of how suddenly a lot of people have taken notice of Shilpa Shetty, here and abroad," Mr Darshan said.

But he agreed that the odds were stacked against her.

"The industry is not kind to actresses who cross the 30 age bar and I think a lot of her Bollywood future will depend on how her next release, Metro, performs," he said.

'Not important enough'

The reaction in India to the alleged racism controversy on Big Brother has been muted.

Protest in Indian state of Bihar
Reaction in India has been muted, bar minor protests

People spoke out against racism and expressed their sympathy and support for Shilpa Shetty - but it went no further.

Film critic Indu Mirani said this could be because she was considered just not important enough.

"If it was one of our top actresses or a male super star, people would have been out in the streets protesting in whatever manner they could. Obviously, Shilpa Shetty was not," she said.

Ms Mirani said the actress had never made it to the top five heroines list at any stage in her career.

"She is a good-looking girl, decent actress and worked with some big names in the business such as actors Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt. But her career never really took off.

"She never did anything wrong - but never really did anything right either," she added.

The 31-year-old was first noticed in 1993 when she starred in a supporting actress role opposite super star Shah Rukh Khan in the hit film Baazigar (Player).

She then went on to play lead roles in films such as Main Khiladi Tu Anari (Me Player, You Buffoon) and Dhadkan (Heartbeat), most of which were moderate successes but never really runaway hits.

'B-grade'

Later, she got tremendous recognition for her portrayal of an HIV sufferer in the 2004 film Phir Milenge (Will Meet Again), which also starred top actors Salman Khan and Abhishek Bachchan.

Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh Khan and others have hit the big time

Inspired by Hollywood hit Philadelphia, it also won her nominations such as for the International Indian Film Academy Awards.

But while her co-stars moved on to bigger projects and greater successes, Shilpa Shetty never quite made it to the big league.

Industry analyst Komal Nahta says that at present, Shilpa Shetty does not have very many projects in the pipeline - "maybe a B grade film or two."

However, Mr Nahta said Big Brother would certainly help her in starting an alternate career.

"She might end up getting product endorsements in the UK or host shows on television but her film career is certainly not looking up just because she has been in the news," he said.

It seems Big Brother has no influence or control on Bollywood.




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