- Ali Abbas Zafar announced Priyanka's exit in July
- Katrina was roped in soon after
- Katrina was apparently always the maker's first choice for the role
Weeks after Priyanka Chopra quit Salman Khan's Bharat, the 52-year-old superstar revealed that Priyanka was initially signed for the role after she requested director Ali Abbas Zafar that she be cast in the film, stated a mid-day report. In his interview, Salman also added that Katrina Kaif was producer Atul Agnihotri's "first choice" for the female lead anyway: "I'm glad Katrina is part of the film. She was Atul's first choice. But Priyanka called Ali and said she wanted to do Bharat, so we considered her." Doesn't this explain Katrina's quick entry to the cast after Priyanka's sudden exit? Priyanka opted out of Bharat just days before she was to join the sets while Katrina was welcomed on the team in less than a week! "It was sweet of her to tell us five days before the shoot that she couldn't do Bharat," Salman added.
Salman was speaking at the Bigg Boss 12 press conference in Goa, where he insisted yet again that Priyanka's decision hasn't really affected the equation between the two stars, reported Indian Express. When asked if he's miffed with Priyanka, Salman said: "No no, I am not angry with Priyanka at all. It's great move in her life (engagement with Nick) and I wish them all the best. Arpita had even attended the functions. So, there's no hard feelings. However, it's sad that the film could not happen with her."
Meanwhile, Priyanka's engagement to Nick Jonas was not said to be the only reason for her exit from the movie. She also apparently jumped on board for her fourth Hollywood film Cowboy Ninja Viking, in which she co-stars with Guardian Of The Galaxy's Chris Pratt. Since Priyanka's exit, Salman has indeed reiterated "it's okay" but the underlying tone may have suggested otherwise: "I hope the other movie that she has signed, works out. Now that she is engaged, we are happy for her. I hope she gets married soon, has children and lives happily ever after," Salman told mid-day, while previously, ANI quoted him as saying this: "I am really happy for her. Had we known earlier that she has signed a big film in Hollywood, we would have never stopped her. My shooting had begun. We got to know about her decision of leaving the film at the end moment - just 10 days before her schedule. Priyanka had come home and I told her, 'It's okay if you don't want to do it'. At that time, we were given some other reason. Whatever may be the reason - be it marriage or picture or her not being willing to work in India or with me, it's her reason and we are really supportive about her doing good work. If she does not want to work with Salman Khan, it's okay; she's working with a big hero in Hollywood."
Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, Bharat is all set to hit screens on Eid next year. Ahead of that, Salman Khan will return to the television screen with Bigg Boss 12, which begins on September 16.