Only person I could think of was Katrina: Ali Abbas Zafar on replacing Priyanka in Bharat

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Ali Abbas Zafar is busy shooting for his period-drama Bharat starring Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover, Tabu, Jackie Shroff, Disha Patani and Aasif Sheikh. The film is the official remake of South Korean film Ode To My Father and has been in the news for several reasons, one of them being the exit of Priyanka Chopra and Katrina stepping in her role. The Quantico actress cited personal reasons of opting out of the film which was revealed by Zafar as her engagement to American singer-actor Nick Jonas. During an interview to a leading daily, Zafar said that he could think of nobody other than Katrina to fill up the female lead’s role in Bharat.

Speaking about the Tiger Zinda Hai actress, he said, “The only person I could think of was Katrina because I have worked closely with her on two films. Also, it is very important for an actor and director to have the so-called understanding, that if someone comes on board at such short notice, they are both comfortable with each other. She has been appreciated in the films that she has done with me. That’s what gave me the confidence to go to Katrina. I told her to read it and said that if we work together then we can create magic, like we have in the past. Everybody in the team was supportive and they said, ‘It’s your film and you need to get the best person in. You take the decision and we will all stand by you'."

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Zafar also said that he does owe Katrina a lot especially because she came on board and rescued the film at such a short notice. He said, “When you make a tent-pole film like this, which everyone talks about, there is a lot of pressure that’s riding on you and you will make that film only once in your life. Considering that, the decisions have to be unemotional. Often, emotional decisions can backfire. I have taken the decision of roping in Katrina unemotionally. Luckily, Katrina’s dates were also available. Obviously, the schedule is going to change a lot. She also has two other films in her kitty, but we will work around that.”

Zafar also credited Katrina for the maturity to step into another actor’s role. However, he maintained that Katrina and he are close friends and she is perfectly at liberty to say ‘No’ to him for any film and there would be no love lost between them. Talking about Katrina’s character in Bharat he said, “In 'Bharat', the character does justice to Katrina’s presence, and that is why I think she has chosen to do the film. We have been close friends and even in the past, I have told her that if she doesn’t like a film that I have offered her, she can always choose to say no. Our friendship does not come in the way of our professional relationship. And she has said ‘no’ to me a couple of times.”

Apparently, Katrina had told Ali at the time they completed Tiger Zinda Hai that he would miss her in his next film and had told him that she will find her way in some way or the other. The director said that it was all destiny and so Katrina is finally in Bharat instead of Priyanka who was initially cast.

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