Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty said Wednesday that God had been "really kind" to her in terms of the career boost produced by her recent Big Brother appearance, as she visited the House of Commons in London.
The Indian actress, in parliament to watch Prime Minister Tony Blair at his weekly question-and-answer session, also thanked the British leader for his "solidarity" with her and her country during a racism row
"It feels great, such an honour. This was what we always saw on the postcards. It's so great just to be here," she said in front of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster.
"There can't be a bigger honour, so much respect to be bestowed upon me," she said, accompanied by British MP Keith Vaz, who is taking her to his Leicester constituency, home to one of Britain's largest Indian communities, later in the day.
Shetty's appearance on reality television show Celebrity Big Brother, in which she was the victim of alleged racist bullying, thrust her into the spotlight and made her a star in Britain, where many people had barely heard of her before.
Since then, she has been besieged by offers which seem set to fuel that celebrity well beyond her fame in Bollywood.
"I had no idea of what was happening in the outside world," she said on Wednesday. "In hindsight everything has worked out really really well, and God's been really really kind to me," she said.
Asked if she hoped to meet Blair personally, she replied: "If I get the opportunity to meet him I'd be more than glad. It would be an honour."
"I want to thank him for his solidarity and his support towards me and my country," said the 31-year-old, accompanied by her mother in the British capital.
The alleged racist bullying of Shetty by three "housemates" on the TV show sparked a diplomatic incident, with Indian ministers vowing "appropriate action" and Blair and finance minister Gordon Brown being forced to speak out. More than 40,000 complaints were received from television viewers citing racist bullying, while in India furious demonstrators in India torching effigies of her tormentors.