The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mallika cry melts Jackie

Mumbai, Nov. 22: It may be a Chinese film but off-screen it was very much a full-blown Bollywood potboiler. It may be called The Myth but for leading man Jackie Chan and his Indian princess in the period piece, Mallika Sherawat, it was all mirth.

And it all started with a phone call some time back.

“Jackie, we have been going all around the world to promote The Myth, you have to come to my city, Mumbai,” cried Mallika, who “also has a nine-minute cameo in the film”.

What does a man say when his schedule is packed till 2008 but can’t break the heart of the lady he picked in his movie because she has a great figure'

“I really have no time,” Jackie chipped in, to which Bollywood’s sexy seductress whimpered: “You have to come, Jackie, you just have to'.”

Asia’s biggest action star could deny no more as he turned up here yesterday night in a white Versace shirt and an orange turban to rose garlands and bhangra beats. From there on, Mallika and her man were all over Mumbai ' promoting their movie in Juhu to holding hands at Bandstand in Bandra to walking in together for the film’s premiere at Versova.

“It was Malika (that’s what Jackie calls her) who told me how crazy people are about me here,” Jackie told The Telegraph. “She taught me Indian dancing steps, showed me around and taught me the traditions of the country.”

Mallika, not really known for her verbal volleys, played safe initially. “My hero is here to save me, he will do all the talking for me,” she said. But then she couldn’t hide back her emotions ' “One day I will tell my grandchildren that I got to act with the most famous Chinese man on this planet.”

And she also treated him to papad and tandoori chicken in an entire range of saris ' specially designed for the day by designer Anita Dongre ' that didn’t reveal a la Cannes and Toronto but did revel in shining blues and reds.

As far as histrionics went, it was mutual admiration on display.

“Malika was surprisingly good given she is such a beautiful woman,” said Jackie, admitting that he didn’t cast her for her acting abilities.

“Even though we had a body double for her, she insisted on doing her own stunts in the film. She kept crying but she also kept trying. I really respect her for that.”

Professional, funny, helpful, caring' Mallika’s admiration for her international co-star was more elaborate than the screen time the two share in the movie. “He really is very admiring of the beauty of Indian women,” she said, reminding Jackie of their Cannes experience every now and then.

The day-long whirlwind trip also saw Jackie making a handsome donation to Mira Nair’s Salaam Baalak Trust for the betterment of street children of Mumbai. He also squeezed out time for some of the children, exchanging gifts and getting clicked with them.

Back to the big screen, Jackie insisted that India and China should go for film co-productions in the near future.

“Together, we two countries make half the world. We should come together against American cinema to protect our own culture,” he said.

So anything new brewing on celluloid from the Chinese action star and the Indian sex symbol' “We will definitely work together again,” Jackie smiled. “What about Malika running slow-motion towards me and then we'.” He did make a gesture that would murder many an ancient myth.

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