August 7, 2008 / 3:00 PM / in 10 years

Bollywood's Shetty gets big offer she can't refuse

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty will host India’s take on the British reality TV show “Celebrity Big Brother,” which she unexpectedly won last year.

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty smiles during a news conference to announce the launch of "Bigg Boss" season 2 show on Colors television channel in Mumbai August 6, 2008. Shetty will host the show which will have 14 contestants and premiers on August 17. REUTERS/Manav Manglani

Shetty won the British show after allegations she had been racially abused.

She said she had never been tempted to enter India’s version.

“I could never do it myself again, because I’ve done it once and it was really hard,” the 33-year-old actress told Reuters on Thursday.

But as the host on India’s “Bigg Boss,” Shetty said relating to contestants was easier because she had gone through the experience herself.

“When I heard the concept, and the fact that I only needed to come in for one elimination round every week, I said OK,” she said. “Plus they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

“Bigg Boss,” which starts on August 17, was first telecast in India in November 2006 with Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi as host.

The show, which follows the international format, features 14 contestants closeted in a specially designed house for three months under 24-hour surveillance, with no access to telephones or television. Each week, one will be voted out.

The show will air in a prime-time slot on the “Colors” channel seven days a week but Shetty will appear only in the elimination episodes each Friday, communicating with the contestants through a TV screen.

The second season of the show in India would also feature a lot more “song and dance” than the British original, the show’s producers said.

Shetty had some advice for the “Bigg Boss” contestants, especially the women: Don’t forget your sunglasses. “I used to wear my glasses under my bedsheet and then get out of bed because I never wanted people to see me without make-up,” she said.

Shetty’s treatment in the British show generated thousands of complaints, dominated headlines and prompted a sponsor of the show to pull out.

She was called a “dog” on the show and some housemates refused to learn her name, referring to her as “the Indian” and “Poppadom,” but Shetty played down the allegations that she had been the victim of racial abuse.

Writing by Tony Tharakan; Editing by Bappa Majumdar

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