'Chandni Chowk...' set to make largest Bollywood splash in US

Washington/New York, Jan 10 (IANS) Warner Bros' first Bollywood production "Chandni Chowk to China" makes the largest-ever opening of any Bollywood film in US and Canada Jan 16 with its release on more than 125 screens in over 50 markets.

In addition, the Akshay Kumar starrer will also be released in 40 international markets, opening day-and-date with North America in 25 markets, according to Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures. The other markets will open the film in the weeks ahead.

The first-ever Bollywood kung fu comedy, "Chandni Chowk to China" follows one man's passage from simple cook to kung fu fighter, on a thrilling, madcap journey from the by-lanes of Chandni Chowk in Delhi to the grandeur of the Great Wall of China and beyond.

At a press conference in New York Thursday to mark the premiere of the film in the US, Akshay Kumar described "Chandni Chowk..." as a "pure Bollywood story".

"If you are fans of Manmohan Desai, this is that kind of a film," he said. "I am anxiously waiting to go back to India and show the film to my son. My grandmother is also waiting to see the film. So it's a film for all ages."

Akshay was joined at the press conference by his 22-year old co-star Deepika Padukone and director Nikhil Advani.

Padukone plays a double role in the film - Sakhi, an Indian woman, and Meow Meow, a Chinese woman, who is also a martial arts expert.

Padukone spent six months training in martial arts. "It was a tough experience, but when Nikhil described the character to me I knew I had to learn martial arts," she said.

Akshay was all praise for the young co star. "If you watch how she kicks in the film, it's hard to believe that she learnt martial arts just a few months ago," he said.

"I'm really lucky to have worked with Akshay," Padukone said. "I grew up watching his films."

Director Nikhil Advani of "Kal Ho Na Ho" fame said "Chandni Chowk to China" will also open in nearly 80 theatres in Britain - another record for a Bollywood film.

"We got a huge level of support from Warner Bros," Advani said. "They made it possible for us to shoot at the Great Wall of China, which is a first for a Bollywood film. And they were so professional to work with."

The film also features stunts choreographed by veteran martial arts stunt coordinator Huen Chiu-Ku, whose credits include "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "Kill Bill: Vols. 1 and 2" and "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor".

After the press conference at Manhattan's Essex Hotel, Akshay Kumar stepped out on Central Park South, followed by a huge entourage of photographers and television camera crew.

He stood by a yellow taxicab parked outside the hotel waving and posing for pictures. Then suddenly the actor stepped up, and the next thing he was standing on top of the cab, smiling, with his fist in the air, reminiscent of his "Singh is Kinng" character.

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