MUMBAI: Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty shot to fame when she won Big Brother in 2007, but on Monday she unwittingly betrayed her ignorance of George Orwell’s work when she said Indian schoolchildren should read Animal Farm to learn how to care for animals.
Far from being a cuddly children’s book the 1945 novella is a dystopian satire on twentieth-century dictatorship.
The star’s literary faux pas quickly sparked a new meme in India, where Twitter users came up with hundreds of alternative suggestions under the hashtag #ShilpaShettyReviews.
“Fifty Shades of Grey is an amazing coloring book. Children will love it #ShilpaShettyReviews” tweeted Vishal Purohit.
“Nineteen Eighty Four is a book about discos, cocaine and lava lamps #ShilpaShettyReviews” posted Navin Noronha under the hashtag, which was the number one trending topic in India.
Shetty’s comments appeared in a Times of India newspaper article about a new school syllabus for English literature.
Welcoming new additions such as Harry Potter, she said it was important to cultivate children’s imagination — and added that “Animal Farm should be included as it will teach the little ones to love and care for animals”.
Shetty, 41, is one of Bollywood’s most talked-about and photographed figures despite not having broken through in any major film roles.
She won fame when she was subjected to allegedly racist taunts on Britain’s “Celebrity Big Brother” reality television series, named after the fictional character in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Together with her husband she owns a stake in the Indian Premier League cricket team Rajasthan Royals.