London, Jan 14: Glamorous Indian film star Shilpa
Shetty is among the favourites to win Britain`s "Celebrity Big
Brother", symbolising Bollywood`s advance into western
Despite being largely unknown in Britain, viewers of the
TV reality show have warmed to the 31-year-old, one of
Bollywood`s hottest actresses.
Shetty has been locked in the big brother house since
January 2 with a motley assortment of other celebrities, under
the unforgiving 24-hour scrutiny of television cameras.
She has ruffled feathers among her female housemates who
find her bossy and pretentious, and caught the roving eye of
the male celebs -- finding a love interest in 61-year-old Dirk
Benedict, alias Templeton "The Face" peck from the 1980s US
television show "The A-team".
Big brother producers sought out the actress and
reportedly paid her more than the others -- up to 350,000
pounds -- to inject some Bollywood spice and shore up ethnic
South Asian viewers.
The celebrity version offers wider recognition for the
lesser-known participants, while forgotten stars can revive
Viewers vote out the housemates one by one, with the
winner earning a cheque for charity to go alongside the
Shetty`s appearance is testament to the growing bond
between Britain and Bollywood.
Britain is now the biggest Bollywood market outside India
with box office revenues more than doubling between 1999 and
2005. Furthermore, Britain is to host the 2007 "Bollywood
Oscars" -- the international Indian Film Academy Awards.
Now Shetty is certain to become the best-known Bollywood
star in Britain.
"She is doing something one step ahead," her spokesman
and publicist told the press.
"Definitely now her fan base will expand.
"I wouldn`t be surprised if she is offered a Hollywood
film or a British film or a film from another country."
"If good offers come, she`ll do them. But what she really
wants is critical acclaim now."
"Big brother has never been about the money or the
profile or how people would perceive her, it`s been about
whether she would have fun."
"She was skeptical but thought what the heck? What`s
there to hide?"
Shetty has been rubbing shoulders with 1970s pop star Leo
Sayer, singer Jermaine Jackson of the Jackson Five and former
Miss Great Britain Danielle Lloyd.