Bollywood star's faux pas sparks meme

Indian actress Shilpa Shetty shot to fame in 2007 after winning reality television series Big Brother.
Indian actress Shilpa Shetty shot to fame in 2007 after winning reality television series Big Brother.PHOTO: IANS

NEW DELHI • Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on Monday 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 20th-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 colouring book. Children will love it #ShilpaShettyReviews", tweeted Vishal Purohit.

"Nineteen Eighty-Four is a book about discos, cocaine and lava lamps #ShilpaShettyReviews", posted Navi Noronha under the hashtag, which was the No. 1 trending topic in India.

Shetty's comments appeared in a Times Of India 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 shot to fame when she won Britain's Big Brother in 2007, after she was subjected to allegedly racist taunts. The reality television series is named after a fictional character in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Together with her husband, Shetty owns a stake in the Indian Premier League cricket team Rajasthan Royals.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Bollywood star's faux pas sparks meme'. Print Edition | Subscribe