In a group interview ahead of Bharat’s release, Salman Khan spoke extensively about Priyanka Chopra’s exit from the Ali Abbas Zafar directorial. During the interaction, Salman was asked if he believed that Priyanka was the wrong choice for the film. The actor said he always wanted Katrina Kaif in the film but Zafar didn’t have enough confidence in her to pull off a “Hindustani role.”
“Priyanka was very keen on doing this film. We thought it was Katrina. But Katrina had just done Tiger Zinda Hai with me. (Also) Ali thought that ‘woh Hindustani role hai.’ (It is an Indian role) So, I said, ‘Kamaal hai yaar! Tumhari dost hai, itna kaam kiya hai. (She is your friend and has done so much work) You don’t have confidence that she will be able to pull off a Hindustani role.’
“She has been here for the last 16 years. I told him, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. She has done movies like Rajneeti, movies of Rajkumar Santoshi (Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani) and all that. Have you forgotten that?’ Just because she has done movies like Bang Bang doesn’t mean she won’t be able to play an Indian role,” Salman Khan shared.
“Then Ali told me that Priyanka had called him and said she wanted to do this movie. Then her marriage thing happened, so she choose to take a very brave, bold and amazing step. Usually, people would have fights in their houses. Boyfriends and girlfriends might fight. Female actors might leave husbands for Bharat (laughs). But she did the right thing. She got married because she wanted. And Katrina got what she wanted,” the Tubelight actor said.
Salman Khan added Priyanka Chopra must have been worried if he would ever work with her again. The actor, however, said he is willing to collaborate with her in the future. “Of course, why not! Priyanka must have also had thought that since she was taking a call five days before the schedule started, I might get pissed off. I might never work with her, all that stuff! Woh sab Priyanka ke dimaag mein aaya hoga. (She must have thought about all of this) In spite of that, she took the call.”
Describing the meeting with Priyanka Chopra at his home, in the presence of his sister Arpita Khan, Salman Khan said he told her that they would work out the dates according to her wedding but she was adamant on leaving the project.
“I asked her what is it. So, she said, ‘Woh Nick hai. I might get married.’ So, I said, ‘Get married then.’ She then said, ‘No no…in those days (during the film’s schedule).’ So I asked her, ‘Are you going to make your own clothes? That will be done by your designers anyway. You just need to be present on those two-three days.’ She said, ‘No no. I don’t know which days.’ I replied, ‘Whichever day it is, we will work up and down.’ So, then Arpita hinted at me that she didn’t want to do the film. So, I asked her, ‘You don’t want to do the film?’ She said, ‘No. I don’t want to do the film. Nick has proposed to me.’ I said, ‘Cool, if he has proposed, then you should.’ Usually some people say that they would get married a year later, after finishing a project. But she chose to get married, which, I think, is outstanding,” Salman said.
Denying that her exit has left a bad taste in his mouth, the actor continued, “This is one of the amazing things Priyanka has done. It is a gutsy thing. She has worked so hard. I think she is one of the most hardworking actresses in Bollywood. It is so hard to keep a career here and there (the US). And then the most important film of her life, which would take her perhaps another 10-15 years to get, she has refused to get married. I mean, it is an amazing thing.”
Priyanka Chopra got married to Nick Jonas on December 1 in a Christian wedding ceremony followed by a Hindu ceremony on December 2. Her upcoming projects include Shonali Bose’s The Sky is Pink and a comedy with American actor-writer Mindy Kaling.
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