Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bharat just faced its first controversy and the game just got hotter with two leading actresses in B-Town vying for the female lead in one of the hottest films of the year. Priyanka Chopra has left the film starring Salman Khan and Disha Patani and produced by Salman’s brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri and sister Alvira. But Salman’s fans can breathe easy – two of Bollywood’s top actresses are in contention for the role. Both Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif have been approached to play the main female lead as Salman’s wife in the movie. Both actresses share a history (being Ranbir Kapoor‘s exes) and have never made any bones about their dislike for each other with Deepika even saying on a TV show that she would not invite Katrina to her wedding.
Priyanka was to start shooting in August but it’s said that she backed out at the last minute. Ali Abbas Zafar tweeted that Priyanka had opted out due to personal reasons (hinting at her reported love affair with Nick Jonas). However a Bollywood insider informs us that the developments were taking place more than a month ago.
Says a source, “While many are taken by surprise at this recent development of Priyanka leaving Bharat, fact is, the matter has been under discussion for more than a couple of weeks – when Salman and Katrina were touring the US for the Dabangg Reloaded tour. Salman had already spoken to Katrina about it on the US tour before she left for London and her UK holiday with her family for her birthday. Salman is keen to cast Katrina. Alvira and the Khandaan too are very close to Katrina and would love to have her act with Salman in the film. Interestingly, Priyanka’s role had been first offered to Katrina by Ali Abbas Zafar before it went to PC but the actress had turned it down.”
Deepika Padukone has been approached too, to step into PC’s shoes. The source says, “Deepika and Salman have never acted in a film together and they would make a fresh combination. She is the No.1 actress of today and Salman is No.1 actor. Imagine their explosive chemistry on screen. Also, both Katrina and Deepika have their date diaries free in August. Deepika in fact, is yet to sign a film post Padmaavat as her movie with Vishal Bharadwaj has got postponed. She had been offered Ali Abbas Zafar’s Sultan too but at that time had turned it down. But one wonders if Deepika will accept Bharat as she is getting married at the end of year and is busy with her wedding arrangements. It will be up to mostly Katrina to bail out Ali Abbas Zafar and Salman as she’s like family now.”
Explaining the reason for Priyanka’s departure, the source adds, “She was keen to do the role (a substantial one) in Bharat as it’s an official remake of the Korean movie An Ode To My Father. She was signed to play the female lead and Salman’s wife in the movie and like him, as they become older in the film, she would have sported five different looks in the movie with the help of prosthetics. It’s as strong a role as Salman’s. It was her first big Bollywood announcement after her stint abroad. She is also very close to Salman’s family, especially his youngest sister Arpita Khan Sharma so she wouldn’t have stepped out unless for definite reasons. Priyanka had informed them that her dates were getting re-shuffled because of Shonali Bose’s film, The Sky Is Pink. Apparently, Abhishek Bachchan had stepped out of the movie a few weeks before the movie began leaving the unit searching for a male lead. Finally, they found it in Farhan Akhtar. But PC had to juggle her dates for this one. Being a thorough professional, she didn’t want to mess up anybody’s shoots so she informed Ali Abbas about it as soon as she could.”