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Shilpa tours the media with message of peace, love and self-promotion

By Jonathan Brown and Robert Verkaik

The Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty continued to bask in the warm glow of the publicity generated by the Celebrity Big Brother (CBB) row yesterday as she called for her fans to take a stand against racism around the world.

With meetings reportedly already scheduled over the next few weeks with the Queen, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the actress warned in an interview: "Racism does exist and something needs to be done about it."

However, Shetty, who has been dubbed an "international ambassador for tolerance and understanding" by one admiring newspaper, called for an end to the hectoring of her tormentors during the show.

She said of Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara, who broke down during a GMTV interview this week: "It's over and done with for me. I truly feel they have had to face so much after coming out that they've learnt their lesson. I think I took my stand. I stood my ground in my own way. I did it my way."

She told Sky News: "Everyone out there, all those people who have ever been put through any kind of racist behaviour, any kind of bullying, they need to stand up for themselves. They need to do it in a way that's dignified."

Shetty's experiences, hurtful as they were, have provided a lucrative springboard as she prepares to resume her career, this time with a massively enhanced international profile.

The Daily Mirror is reported to have paid £150,000 for its exclusive interview with her this week, in which she expounds on topics ranging from her life story, her servants, and even her favourite recipe for chicken curry. And the offers continue to pour in. She is said to be considering a six-figure offer to take part in the Indian reality show Cricket Star, and she has even floated the idea of hosting her own cookery programme. Studio bosses have been beating a path to her door with a flurry of film and television offers.

There has also been talk of an album deal and a book, plus lucrative product endorsements - from designer wear to personal care products - said to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is reported to be keen to sign her to star in a musical.

Companies including Tesco are eyeing her as a future figurehead, and the Indian Tourist Board is reportedly keen to recruit her to promote destinations in the subcontinent.

Meanwhile, the furore provoked by the series continues to rumble on. Channel 4 and Endemol are facing legal action over alleged comments by the show's presenter Davina McCall and the comedian Russell Brand.

Lawyers representing a number of ethnic minority viewers have written to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom to raise concerns about alleged racist, sexist and offensive language on CBB and the spin-off CBB's Big Mouth, presented by Brand.

A letter by the civil rights law firm Equal Justice claims McCall failed fairly to put the alleged racist incidents to Shetty for comment and may have encouraged viewers to laugh at the idea the actress could speak good English. It is also alleged she failed to ask Goody effective questions about the suggestions of racism. The letter raises further concern about a comment by Brand which, it is claimed, implied the race row and the idea that someone should lose their jobs over it was a "masturbatory overreaction" on the part of the complaining public.

Shilpa's rewards

Newspaper Deal:

The Daily Mirror outbid The Sun with a £150,000 deal to secure the first exclusive interview. It devoted five pages to her story.

Celebrity Big Brother:

Said to have been paid £300,000 to be the first Asian contestant to appear on the show.

TV and Film:

Linked to the reality TV show Cricket Star for £100,000 fee. Said to be considering further offers.

Product Endorsement:

Director of cosmetics giant Emami has offered £100,000 for two-year promotion deal. Also linked to supermarket chain Tesco.

Good Causes:

Can now add anti-racism to her list of causes, which already include animal rights and Aids.

Irish Independent


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