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Katrina Kaif steps in for Priyanka Chopra in Bharat

The Tiger Zinda Hai (2017) actress has been cast opposite Salman Khan in the Ali Abbas Zafar film. 

Shriram Iyengar

Days after Ali Abbas Zafar surprised everyone by announcing Priyanka Chopra's departure from Bharat, starring Salman Khan, the makers have announced a replacedment. Actress Katrina Kaif is now officially part of the cast, and will play the romantic lead opposite Khan in the film. The actress will join the shoot schedule in September. 

Speaking about Kaif's decision to join the project, Zafar said, "I am extremely excited to work with Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan once again for Bharat. We have had exciting collaborations in the past and it is very interesting to work with the duo once again. It is very delightful to work with the immensely talented actress yet again." 

Salman not upset with Priyanka, she didn't quit Bharat at the eleventh hour: Salim Khan

On Friday (27 July), Zafar announced the departure of Chopra from the project with a tweet. She backed out of the project in 'the Nick of time' said the director, referring to the obvious relationship between Chopra and American pop-star Nick Jonas as the reason behind the decision. 

The tweet sent social media into a frenzy. However, Zafar followed it up with another tweet saying that the film's makers were already in talks for an alternate lead, and will make the announcement when ready. 

Now, the director has officially announced the coming together of Kaif and Khan for Bharat.

Even before the shooting for Bharat began, there were rumours about Kaif being a part of the project. However, in July, Kaif refuted the rumours. In a quote to Hindustan Times, a daily, the actress said, "I am not a part of that film [Bharat]. My next is Remo D’Souza’s film with Varun [Dhawan], which I am going to start work on after wrapping up Aanand L Rai’s film, Zero. There is still a little bit of work left to complete that film. I should start work on the dance film by the last quarter of the year." 

With Chopra continuing to shoot for Shonali Bose's The Sky Is Pink, it looks like the decision has come full circle. 

A remake of the Korean drama, Ode To My Father (2014), Bharat will cut across a timeline of seven decades. Khan, and now Kaif, will be seen in five different looks throughout the film. The actor is also likely to be seen in a younger, leaner look as the film covers his early ages. 

Bharat is produced by Atul Agnihotri's Reel Life Production Pvt. Ltd and Bhushan Kumar's T-Series. The film will be released during the Eid weekend of 2019.