Shilpa Shetty has forgiven Jade Goody, her housemate in the British TV reality show Celebrity Big Brother, for her offensive behaviour but hasn't yet gotten over author and scriptwriter Farrukh Dhondy's stinging criticism.
The London-based Dhondy termed the remarks against Shetty, which triggered a debate on racism in Britain, as unreal and untrue. He labelled the whole episode as a "drama and gimmick" to boost the show's ratings.
Excerpts of an interview:
How are you holding up as India's new representative abroad?
I'm doing okay. I met Prime Minister Tony Blair. I went there to thank him on my country's behalf. It was an embarrassing situation for him. He had to answer questions on racism.
Was chicken curry served?
Oh yeah! 'Chicken Curry Rules' has become a slogan in Britain... I got to know that old people from the British Asian community, who never watched Big Brother, started watching the show to see me.... Would you believe, I haven't seen the entire series of Big Brother.
Do you really believe you were a victim of racism in there?
Initially, it was hard for me to tell. In India none of us goes through racist behaviour. All of us are Indian. Once I was in the house lots of things were happening. People who followed the whole series were irked by what they saw.
These are British Asians who have been subjected to this kind of discrimination for years and this was the first time they saw someone they knew and liked standing up against the bullying and racial discrimination they experienced in everyday life. For me, to be treated like that, was very painful to see.
When I made a statement from in there saying, 'Is this the new Britain' the Brits didn't want Britain to be epitomised by those three girls in there (who bullied me).
Do you feel you were treated to racial discrimination?
You know, if you saw the footage I clearly said, "It was racist". I never did anything in the house to hurt them, or to make them feel I was unfriendly. They had this attitude towards me, and I didn't know where it was coming from. This kind of attitude happens among women who are insecure or jealous. But I was never subjected to this kind of a thing.
Was it a girlie thing carried too far?
There was groupism and a divide. So coming back to your question about whether the situation in there was racist, I said it was. I don't like to hold grudges. When I went to the dining room, Big Brother asked me if Jade Goody's attitude towards me was racist. That's when I realised the gravity of the situation.