Fans of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty protested the alleged mistreatment she has endured on the hit British reality TV show "Celebrity Big Brother," burning an effigy representing the program's producers on Wednesday.
Reports of the mistreatment meted out by one of Shetty's co-stars who has called her cooking untrustworthy, mocked her accent and complained about her "screeching" were front page news in India, prompting about 25 people, most of them men, to march down a street in this eastern Indian city chanting "Down with Big Brother."
The protesters, who said they were part of the Shilpa Shetty Fans Association, managed to burn the effigy nothing more than straw and paper covered by a white cloth before being dispersed by police.
In New Delhi, India's capital, the anger over Shetty's situation took a more subdued form with an official saying the government planned to lodge a protest about the matter with British authorities.
"We are awaiting a report about the show. The government will take appropriate measures once it gets to know the full details," said Anand Sharma, India's junior minister for external affairs.
"Racism has no place in civilized society," he told journalists.
Shetty, 31, has been repeatedly reduced to tears by a fellow contestant, and newspapers in India reported Wednesday that tens of thousands of Indians have sent e-mails to the show's U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 complaining about alleged racist remarks.
The surge in complaints swelled after an episode in which another contestant said Indians were thin because they undercooked their food.
Shetty's family on Wednesday said in a statement that they were "overwhelmed and touched" by the support shown for Shilpa in India and around the world.
"Shilpa is a strong individual who continues to make us proud every day," the statement said, reports AP.
Shetty, a former model, has acted in more than 40 romantic movies since her 1993 debut. While she has flirted with true stardom here, most consider her a B-level celebrity.
"Big Brother" pits contestants against each other in a battle to stay on the set, a specially constructed house peppered with microphones and cameras.
Celebrities taking part in the current show include pop star Michael Jackson's brother, Jermaine.
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