How it’s possible for the lives of two such different people be so intricately entwined it’s hard to understand. It started when they were thrown together on the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother. On the one hand, there was the brash poorly-educated working class girl who appeared to be the living representation of the brutalised, hopeless post-industralised celebrity culture. On the other hand was the refined, cultured, sensitive Indian actress who tried to understand everything and be kind to everyone.
Something unexpected happened when Jade Goody started making careless racist remarks within the pressure-pot atmosphere of the House, the general public rallied to Shilpa Shetty’s side, won over by her dignity and decorum. Shilpa won the contest easily becoming the most popular Bollywood actress in the land – special DVD sets of her old movies were released – and Jade was castigated throughout the media.
But then something even more remarkable happened, Jade was able to take a step back and reflect upon what she’d done. As always with Jade, this was done entirely in the public eye, but her remorse seemed genuine enough. Shilpa had never shown any bitterness – far from it, she radiated instant forgiveness – so Jade was able to reconcile with her past.
So much so, that the two became friends of a sort. Jade was even lined up to take part in Big Boss, the Indian equivalent of Celebrity Big Brother – until disaster struck and she was diagnosed as having cervical cancer. This rapidly spread and she was diagnosed as having only weeks to live.
Jade has spent the last few weeks living as she has always wanted – fully in the public eye – undergoing chemotherapy, marrying her partner, being christened, having TV cameras filming her last farewells to her family and friends, campaigning for more tests for cervical cancer for young women – this last has now been confirmed by the government. Her final struggle, showing a remarkable degree of strength and dignity, has generated acres of newsprint. Now she hopes to meet Shilpa Shetty one last time.
Shilpa is hoping to visit Jade next week in what will clearly be an emotional event. Time is short – Jade is already said to be slipping in and out of consciousness. “Shilpa has been keeping in touch with her for months and they are good friends,” said Jade’s publicist Max Clifford. “She desperately wants to see her if she’s well enough.”
The hope is that the two will have the opportunity to meet one last time and so will end one of the most remarkable stories of the decade.