The “Rang De Basanti” effect on the collective consciousness of the nation was evident once again today as Gen X gadget-activists came out in full force SMS-ing, emailing and online-petitioning in support of Shilpa Shetty, the subject of vile racial abuse on UK’s Big Brother.
Neha Hingorani represents this new-age awakened citizen. A far cry from the khadi-clad Gandhi topiwala from yesteryears, we find her sitting in the lounge of a multiplex, working furiously on her Motorola Razr sending SMS-s to all her friends and to public polls on all the TV channels.
Her voice quivering with righteous passion, she told this correspondent:
We got justice for Jessica. We got it for Priyadarshini. And we will get it for Shilpa. After all, yaar Shilpa is our ambassador. In front of all those gora-shoras. She isn’t doing it for money…after all paisa to sab naheen hain na…she is doing it for the country. Now if only my dad would buy me an iPhone, I could be even more of an activist and send these SMS-s even faster….
The normally apathetic Indian government’s reaction has been swift. Usually unwilling to take stances on most foreign issues, they have reacted decisively probably swayed by the tidal wave of outrage.
[From Times of India]
â€œWe have been apprised of the matter. We are looking into all the aspects and will take appropriate action as required,â€ Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said in the Capital on Wednesday.
â€œThe world knows that India has throughout firmly rejected all forms of discrimination and racism,â€ he said.
On further investigation as to the “appropriate action” that the government will take against “Big Brother”, reliable sources tell us that all kinds of options are on the table: from a high-ranked hooter-troubleshooter discreetly visiting Britain and talking to the racist models to a lightning-quick attack on the United Kingdom through the use of high-pitched nasal rays from the Himesh.
Sameer is one of India’s leading Web 2.0 activists. We caught up with him in a cybercafe just as he was minimizing some rather provocative site. One of the almost 20,000 signatories to the “Stop Shilpa Shetty Being the Victim of Racism in Big Brother” , he started by reading out the petition to us.
This petition has been created because of the racial discrimination Indian actress Shilpa Shetty is facing within the Celebrity Big Brother House.
Channel 4 have clearly edited the programme to cut out the many offences committed against Shilpa, one being Jack Tweedy calling Shilpa a ‘Paki’ in bed with Jade and it being bleepedout. Clearly with the footage available on the internet (www.youtube.com) you can lip read and hear him close the word with an “ee” sound. Yet Channel 4 bleeped it, failing to expose Jack Tweedy for the racist biggot he is.
On live footage housemate Liverpool girl Danielle and racist Jack Tweedy were telling Jade Goody that “Shilpa wants to be white” repeatedly on the 13th January 2007.
At this point, Sameer became overcome with emotion. His voice choking up, he said:
They did this to Bapu in South Africa. And history is being repeated again. But we are not so powerless now as we were then.
India’s blogosphere has not been silent either–rising as one against this outrage on Shilpa Shetty. Taking particular exception to racist suggestions that Shilpa’s breasts may be fake, Desipundit has made a “sticky” post where agitated male bloggers are for now just wiping their hands.
However there were some ambivalent reactions too.
Akshay Kumar, the world’s foremost expert on Shilpa Shetty (as well as on Ayesha Jhulka, Pooja Batra, Nipunika, Raveena Tandon, Twinkle Khanna and Priyanka Chopra), refused to take our calls.
Dhwajadhari Dutta, one of India’s foremost gossip-analysts, was sceptical. Our correspondent was able to get hold of this elusive 70 year-old man, as he sat on the park bench, leaning on his cane and visually following a female jogger.
Shilpa Shetty is smart. She knows that she is on a show where one’s success depends on public perception. Realizing that she is surrounded by the worst kind of trash, she has very cleverly pushed them into revealing their ugly side (not that it took much effort) , thus not only getting audience sympathy but more importantly by equating a vote against her with a vote for racism. She might very well win this thing.
Of course Mr. Dutta’s rather cynical view found few takers. Neha Hingorani, when told of this assessment, brushed it away.
Daddu is just frustrated that Dadima doesn’t have a bod like Shilpa. What’s Daddu’s number? Let me send him a ringtone of Pussycat Doll’s “Doncha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?”
Sameer was also not-impressed.
It is because of the mindset of people like Mr. Dutta that the world’s greatest movie ever “Rang De Basanti” was not shortlisted in the Oscar’s Best Foreign Film section. These people just do not want to “be the change”. …argh….look at how Mr. Dutta attacks the victim…typical Nehruvism.
And so the debate rages on. While we can only speculate at how history will judge this incident, what we do know is that India’s Gen Next activism is, in the words of a Shilpa Shetty song from Zameer, very much “Taktakatak”.
[Update from our senior political correspondent: Britain’s Prime Minister-in-waiting Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown on a visit to India and no-doubt reeling under the weight of the national Aakrosh: Cycle of Anger (the name of a Shilpa Shetty starrer) and widespread effigy-burning of Big Brother bosses has unequivocally condemned the attack on Shilpa Shetty. Treasury Minister Ed Balls scratched a condemnation too saying he was “ashamed” and that the image this incident projects of England abroad is appalling.
The reaction to this was immediate.
“They might not have apologized for Jallianwalah Bagh but they sure did for Shilpa Shetty” yelled a jubilant youngster as the tunes of “It happens only in India“, a song from another Shilpa Shetty starrer Pardesi Babu started playing on his cellphone.]
[ Online petition link courtesy Asterix]