Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Are the Brits losing it over Shilpa?

Read this really weird news in Times of India
A leading UK University will confer an honorary doctorate on Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on Wednesday for her outstanding contribution to cultural diversity.

The Leeds Metropolitan University has, in the past, honoured prominent Indian personalities who contributed to India's emergence as a fast developing cinema-proud nation during its 60th year of freedom struggle, a spokeswoman of the University said.

Mangalore-born Shilpa Shetty is the youngest actor from the Indian film fraternity to join ranks of Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi and Yash Chopra who have been earlier chosen for the honour.

Isn't this Shilpa Shetty thing being carried too far. After all, when she joined the Big Brother show, Shilpa knew it was not going to be a bed of roses. She probably joined partly because she needed a boost to her flagging acting career and partly for money - both of which she got, and much more besides.
As for racism - obviously it cannot be supported. But then there are hundreds of Indians and people from other races too, including children, who are dealing with racism at school, on jobs and socially, in different parts of the world everyday. Isn't it time people started doing something for them too rather than go on and on with Shilpa?
As for a honorary doctorate, I think it's really unfair to dole out doctorates to people who have done nothing to earn it even as many students are struggling with backlogs to get their PhDs, even after they have worked very hard. In India, for instance, administrative delays have ruined the careers of many serious researchers, whose doctorates take up to even a decade in coming through. Many of these reasearchers have done pathbreaking work in their line of studies. Should the Leeds Metropolitan University then make such a mockery out of a PhD degree?
Finally, despite all the hungama around the Big Brother show and the Richard Gere kiss, I don't think Shilpa's career in Bollywood is going anywhere. Doesn't that come as a big professional failure for a person whose core claim to fame is being a Bollywood actor? Besides, how exactly has Shilpa contributed to cultural diversity - whatever that means? In fact, in giving her the doctorate and other such honours isn't the mainstream British society sweeping far more important racist issues under the carpet. It's almost like trying to put up a big show by heaping goodies on Shilpa and hiding their poor racist record. Shilpa may be a victim of racism, but it's not the worst form of racism that she has faced. There are much more terrible hate crimes based on racist tendencies that all of the Western society has to seriously face. And it's not even restricted to Western society - many countries around the world, including India, have to deal with racist issues! Shah Rukh Khan's wax model at Madame Tussad's makes sense because he's definitely the most bankable Bollywood star, as does a doctorate for Amitabh Bachchan, who has spent his whole life in producing a huge body of unparalleled work for the Hindi film industry! But Dr Shilpa Shetty - just doesn't make sense.


Ananya Mukherjee Reed said...

Yes they are. These serve quite well as ways to detract attention from the real racism

Priyank said...

yes, this is crazy indeed. See, earning a doctorate is not that difficult. Ah, but you need to be a celebrity for that. pity pity.