After all the fuss, Shilpa, housemates hug and make up
By Prasun Sonwalkar, IANS
Bollywood's struggling actor Shilpa Shetty, in the eye of a media-fuelled row over racist slurs against her, hugged and made up with housemate Jade Goody after the latter apologised for her remarks in the reality TV show "Celebrity Big Brother" and insisted she was "not racist".
Goody was seen apologising to Shilpa Shetty after producers called her into the diary room for a chat. The rapprochement came after Goody called the Bollywood actress "Shilpa Poppadom" and "Shilpa F***awala".
Only a brief section of the conversation with the Big Brother producers was telecast, in which she said: "If I have offended any Indians out there, I apologise."
Goody was shown apologising to Shetty late Friday, saying: "I didn't say it in a racial way, I do not judge people by the colour of their skin."
"I know that what has happened has not been nice for you...and a lot of stuff got said the other day from you and from myself."
Shilpa replied: "I know that. I don't think you're racist. I really appreciate that you took the first step."
The two then hugged and made up.
Goody's earlier remarks calling Shilpa "Poppadom" were as follows: "Kate Moss invited me back to her house for a party, that's my claim to fame. Not Shilpa Derupa. I don't know what her name is, particularly. I don't really care. Like I said last night it's Shilpa Poppadom or something."
Housemate and former Miss Great Britain Danielle Lloyd also apologised to the Indian actor. She crouched besides Shilpa's bed at night and said she was "disgusted" by her behaviour.
She told Shilpa: "I didn't agree with some of the things you said to Jade, but I especially didn't agree with some of the things that Jade said to you."
However, Big Brother fans have accused Channel 4, which telecasts the programme, of manipulation in a bid to salvage the career of Goody, who shares her agent with Big Brother hosts Davina McCall and Russell Brand and until now has been the show's major success story.
One viewer said: "Those girls have definitely been tipped off regarding racism and it's so two-faced ... I swear I will never watch Big Brother again."
Another said: "Big Brother and Endemol are protecting their precious Jade once again."
Channel 4's decision to screen a Diary Room interview with Shetty in which she retracted her earlier claims of racism also came in for flak.
Shilpa had said: "Actually, I take that back. People say things in a fit of anger and I stand corrected, so I don't want people to think and feel that way. Please clarify and put this as a statement - that I don't feel there was any racial discrimination happening from Jade's end."
But viewers pointed out that many of the allegedly racist comments had been made behind Shilpa's back.
Meanwhile, viewer complaints climbed beyond 35,000. Channel 4 has donated all the money from text and phone votes from Saturday night's live show in which Goody and Shilpa are up for eviction.
On Friday, Channel 4 said only 10 pence of every 50 pence call would go to charity. It later emerged that the broadcaster would stand to make as much as 3 million pounds. The channel's bosses said on the Big Brother website: "All proceeds from this vote will go to charity."
It has emerged that Channel 4 will not lose money from the controversy despite sponsor Carphone Warehouse pulling out of the 3 million pound-contract.
Meanwhile, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has joined the debate, branding the show as "disgusting" and asserting that "racism is being presented as entertainment".
British media has already dubbed the racism battle between Bollywood actor Shilpa and Goody as a showdown between "the beauty and the beast".
Lloyd has already been dumped from a lucrative modelling contract, believed to be worth six figures, as a result of the row. The girlfriend of Teddy Sheringham had signed a 12-month deal at the end of last year to be the face of motorcycle insurance firm Bennetts.
The Perfume Shop too decided to withdraw Goody's best- selling perfume, Shh..., from its shelves because of the controversy, adding that it would review the position when she left the house.
Media expert Bob Wootton of the ISBA advertising association said: "My best guess is it's going to be at least financially neutral for Channel 4 and probably there will in fact be some financial benefit.
"You have to consider the effect this will have also in India, where they are yet to have the Big Brother brand. Despite the protests, what a launchpad for them out there."