Bollywood star tells how she fought off Paris attackers

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malika sherawa intvw_00000606


    Melissa Bell interviews Mallika Sherawa


Melissa Bell interviews Mallika Sherawa 02:58

Story highlights

  • Mallika Sherawat said would-be robbers were "strong men but I didn't just cower down"
  • She expressed empathy for Kim Kardashian West, robbed in Paris last month

(CNN)The Bollywood actress who fought off masked attackers aimed at robbing her in Paris has vowed that she will not let it change her life.

Mallika Sherawat was attacked from behind by three men who sprayed teargas at her and her French boyfriend, Cyrille Auxenfans, in the hallway of his apartment building as they arrived home.
    They pushed Sherawat to the ground, then started hitting Auxenfans and tried to grab her bag.
    "He was hurt a little bit. We both fought them off. I'm not going to let this change my life at all," she told CNN, describing herself as "a strong woman."
    "I fought them off. They are strong men but I didn't just cower down," she said.
    The attackers, who wore scarves over their faces, fled empty-handed from the building in rue de la Faisanderie, an upscale neighborhood in the 16th arrondissement.
    Sherawat, 40, did not wish to go into further detail about the attempted robbery, but told CNN: "It was extremely traumatic. No one should be made to suffer the insecurity of having their home broken into or the physical and mental abuse of such an attack."
    The actress said the teargas temporarily blinded her and she has been left with "a few bruises and marks" and "the feeling of having to look over your shoulder."
    Auxenfans, a businessman, also suffered minor injuries.
    Mallika Sherawat, pictured at Cannes Film Festival, was in Paris visiting her boyfriend.
    The crime took place around 9:30 pm on Friday November 11 about 4.3 km (2.7 miles) from the luxury private mansion in the 8th arrondissement where American reality TV star Kim Kardashian West was robbed of an estimated $10 million worth of jewelry on October 3.
    Sherawat, who has two million Twitter followers and regularly posts about her life on social media, does not know if she was targeted because of her celebrity status.
    "They didn't say anything. They didn't utter one word," she said of the masked men.
    She said of Kardashian West: "I really feel extremely empathetic towards her, she suffered the same emotional, physical and mental trauma that I have."
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    Sherawat did not have a bodyguard with her at the time and does not want to get one now.
    "Do I get paranoid, do I get security guards around me? Do I want to do that? I want to have a normal life," she explained.
    Sherawat has previously spoken out against the number of attacks on women in her home country of India, including honor killings and gang rapes. She told CNN her recent experience made her think of those who live in fear every day.
    "I think for women it's important to get the message out that we are not going to let this scare us or change our lives," she said.
    "I am more empathetic to women who live in this fear because of their circumstances or where they live. It's very humbling."
    The actress lives in Los Angeles and Mumbai but was in Paris visiting Auxenfans as she took a break before she starts shooting her next film.
    The Paris police told CNN the motive is unknown, and declined to say if there is any link between the incident and the robbery of Kardashian West as the investigation is ongoing.
    Sherawat, whose real name is Reema Lamba, is well-known in her native India for her appearances in films such as "Welcome," a Hindi-language comedy, and "Aap Kaa Surroor," a romantic thriller. She has also made films in America and appeared in Hawaii Five-0, the American police TV series.
    Sherawat, who remained in the French capital Friday, is grateful to her well-wishers and the authorities.
    "That makes me feel very comforted," she said. "The police have been wonderful and Paris is a wonderful city. I'm not going to let this bad experience spoil Paris for me."