Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat attacked in Paris

Malika Sherawat arrives for the screening of the film The BFG at the Cannes Film Festival in France, in May 2016.
Malika Sherawat arrives for the screening of the film The BFG at the Cannes Film Festival in France, in May 2016.PHOTO: AFP
Malika Sherawat arrives for the screening of the film The BFG at the Cannes Film Festival in France, in May 2016.
Malika Sherawat arrives for the screening of the film The BFG at the Cannes Film Festival in France, in May 2016.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat was punched in the face and sprayed with tear gas by masked attackers in an upmarket area of Paris, police said on Thursday (Nov 17).

The 40-year-old star and her partner were attacked by three masked men who tried to steal her handbag.

The couple told police the men had ambushed them in the lobby of the apartment building where they were staying in the chic 16th arrondissement of the French capital on Nov 11.

The incident comes just weeks after US reality TV star Kim Kardashian was attacked in Paris in a robbery in which a masked gang stole jewellery worth more than US$10 million (S$14 million).

However, investigators said they were mystified that although the attackers had tried to take Sherawat's handbag, they had fled empty-handed.

"We cannot understand why the attackers fled without taking anything," a source in the investigation told AFP.

Sherawat, whose real name is Reema Lambha, came to prominence from 2004 onwards thanks to a raunchy film that helped bust taboos around sex in the conservative Indian film industry.

She is well-known for her role in the film Murder and also starred in Jackie Chan's The Myth in 2005.

She is also a women's rights activist and caused controversy with comments about how Indian society is "regressive and depressive" because of how it treats women.