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Deccan Herald » National » Full Story

Jackie Chan touch gives kalaripayattu a fillip

Jackie Chan apparently chose Kalaripayattu to portray a traditional Indian martial art form which has been in vogue for centuries

Action super hero Jackie Chan may not have fancied the idea of becoming the brand ambassador of Kerala Tourism as was widely rumoured in the State sometime ago. But he has certainly been enamoured by Kalaripayattu, the popular traditional martial arts form of Kerala which will be seen in action in his forthcoming multilingual production which also co-stars Leung Ka Fai and Bollywood star Mallika Sherawat.

This was revealed by Mr G Sathyanarayanan, chief kalari instructor at the famed C V N Kalari, who is back in thiruvananthapuram after completing a 30-day shooting stint in Shanghai which also saw him taking on the martial arts icon in a fight sequence.

Speaking to Deccan Herald here on Saturday, Mr Sathyanarayanan who watched Jackie Chan at close quarters at the film’s studio location in Shanghai was all praise for the actor’s agility and physical fitness despite his age.

Sathyanarayanan plays a small part of an Indian prince (Prince of Sadai) leading an array of warriors in the film which blends mythology and modern life. Besides him, five others from his kalari school have also acted in the film.

“Jackie is a man of ideas and one rarely sees him idling on the sets. My impression is that he saw kalaripayattu in CDs on Kerala Tourism (which also features the art form) that reached him. That is how he wanted it to be included to represent an exclusive Indian martial art,’’ he said.

Sathyanarayanan who has already acted in some Malayalam films featuring kalaripayattu says Kerala’s traditional art form would get a big boost with the release of the film. News reports quoting Mallika Sherawat have claimed the name of the film to be The Myth.

According to Sathyanarayanan, swords, daggers and spears which are part of kalaripayattu were used in his fight with Chan inside a dome. “The fight ends with both of us matching each other’s skills. Jackie constantly helped us to improve our acting skills,” he said. “We were paid on a daily basis. But apart from that, what mattered was the popularisation of this dying art form.

The film’s director Stanley Tong (director of “Rumble in the Bronx” and “The Police Story” series) had visited Thiruvananthapuram early this year as part of researching shooting locations for the Indian part of the film. The second schedule of the film will be shot in Hampi in Karnataka.

Delegations from C V N Kalari have performed in several Asian countries like Japan and also Europe as part of the Government’s cultural exchange programmes. “The fact that people outside the country know well about kalaripayattu is really heartening,” said Mr Sathyanarayanan who is the eldest son of the school’s founder Govindankutty Nair Gurukkal.

The kalari school which also offers ayurveda treatment has over 20 outlets in the State and also one in Bangalore. Mr Sathyanarayanan is leading a team from his kalari school to perform in the Sixth Asian Arts Festival beginning in Beijing on August 17.

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