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Big Brother inmates poke fun at Shilpa

Ofcom, a British broadcasting agency, is probing over 200 complaints about alleged racism against the actress.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2007 16:29 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Britain's broadcasting watchdog Ofcom is investigating nearly 200 complaints about alleged racism against her even as strong opinions are being expressed on Asian radio stations and websites in her support.

Asian radio station Sunrise received several calls on a phone-in on Sunday from viewers, complaining about racism against Shetty.

According to her fans, the long-legged Bollywood stunner is being targeted by some housemates because she is Indian and is being described in what can be called unparliamentary language.

Shilpa Shetty is the first Bollywood celebrity to particiate in the UK reality TV show Big Brother.

Big Brother housemates Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara seem to have ganged up against Shetty in the past few days. Shetty has become the subject of snide and biting remarks because of her hauteur and background as the heartthrob of millions of Bollywood fans.

Channel Four, which broadcasts the popular reality show, has said that her treatment in the house is "girly rivalry" and that it would not tolerate bullying or racism.

Shetty's housemates have often referred to her as 'the Indian', and some have found it difficult to pronounce her name, poked fun at her accent and asked her if she lived in a shack.

An Ofcom spokeswoman said: "We have had approximately 200 complaints of racism. Quite a lot of websites have been discussing the issue and urging people to get in contact with us. We will look into each individual complaint."

Speaking to the BBC Asian Network, evicted housemate Carole Malone said she believes the incidents were motivated by jealousy.

"Shilpa is too good looking for her own good. She's an incredibly powerful and beautiful woman. She is a very strong woman and can handle it."

"I spoke to her about it when I was in the house. Shilpa feels that she represents the Indian/Asian community and doesn't want to let them or herself down by retaliating".

The Evening Standard reported that producers of the reality show held an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss whether comments made to Shetty could be construed as racism.

An unnamed source told the paper: "Shilpa was not called a 'paki'. If the producers thought that anything that was said was overtly racist, the contestant who made the remark would be out.

"Shilpa is no shrinking violet and is standing up for herself. But producers are very concerned about the situation and monitoring the housemates very closely regarding this issue."

First Published: Jan 16, 2007 16:29 IST