Bharat has a strong female lead; had adapted the role for Priyanka: Ali Abbas Zafar

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Ali Abbas Zafar is busy shooting his ambitious project Bharat with Salman Khan, Disha Patani, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover, Tabu, Jackie Shroff and Aasif Sheikh. The Mumbai schedule of the film is complete and the team is busy shooting in the beautiful locales of Malta. However, the film has also been in the news for Priyanka Chopra’s exit. It was Zafar who first broke the news of Priyanka’s engagement with Nick Jonas and her decision to opt out of the film citing personal reasons. In an interview with a leading daily, the director wished the Quantico actress all the best in her life professionally and personally.

Zafar was asked whether Priyanka was his first choice to play the female lead in Bharat since he had already worked with her in Gunday, he said, “When you write a film, you flesh out the characters. Even when I do a Salman Khan film, I first write the character and then get the superstardom of Salman Khan in the film. Similarly, for the actresses, all my films have strong female leads. When I wrote Bharat, I was sure that I wanted a certain kind of an actor to play the part. I approached Priyanka for the role. She is a very close friend and she had expressed a desire to come back and work with me. When Bharat happened, we were all on the same page and I adapted the role for her. It’s a strong role on paper at par with Salman Khan’s role, which is why we wanted to cast a big star and a good actor in it.”

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Katrina Kaif has been roped in to play the lead instead of Priyanka and that gave rise to the pertinent question that is actresses so easily replaceable. To this, Zafar said, “I don’t think that’s the way it is. At times, you have to replace even the actors. Films are similar to real life in many ways. Life goes on and that’s exactly what happens with a film. People leave a film for personal and professional reasons. The film will not stop for anyone. If there’s anyone who has lost out on anything in 'Bharat,' it’s the team. This is a big film and the role is a strong one. We would look for someone not as a replacement, but from the point of view of casting for the part. The good thing that happened is that Priyanka didn’t shoot for the film. We would have shot with her in three weeks’ time for her first schedule. We had time to think about the recasting.”

Ali also maintained that he cannot be angry or hurt with Priyanka as she is a dear friend and had valid reasons, so he couldn’t say no to them. The director accepted that he was unnerved after Priyanka’s exit but it all happened for the larger good.

Meanwhile, Priyanka staying true to her word got officially engaged this Saturday to American singer-actor Nick Jonas. The two had a traditional roka ceremony after which they threw an engagement bash for close friends in the fraternity.

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