Devbrat Patnaik

While Priyanka Chopra's sudden exit from Salman Khan-starrer ‘Bharat’ left Bollywood and its fans bemused, the Bhaijaan of the film industry at the trailer launch of ‘LoveRatri’ in Delhi a few days back, said he is very happy for PeeCee and that her reason to leave the film is completely hers.

Asked about Priyanka Chopra's exit from Bharat, Salman said, “I am really happy for her. We were not aware that she has signed a big Hollywood film. If we had known about it a little earlier also, we wouldn't have stopped her. My shooting had already started. And we got to know at the end moment, just 10 days before her shoot when she expressed that she wants to leave the film. Of course, if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it, we said. But we were given another reason then.”

When he was asked about the possible reasons of her exit, Salman said, “Reason could be her marriage, or she doesn't want to work in India or maybe she doesn’t want to work with me.  We are really happy and really supportive about her doing really good work. Whatever it is, her wedding, or her Hollywood film or the fact that she doesn’t want to work with me, it’s her reason. There in Hollywood, she is making our country proud. If she doesn’t want to work with Salman Khan, she’ll work with a top actor in Hollywood and make our country proud.”

Soon after the ‘Quantico’ actress left, Katrina Kaif stepped into the period drama and this has made fans super excited as they are going to see Salman and Katrina reunite on-screen after "Tiger Zinda Hai", which was also directed by Ali Abbas Zafar.

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Katrina, who has given several hits with Salman at the box office, will play his love interest in Bharat.

Salman Khan too welcomed Katrina to the cast of ‘Bharat’ in style, by calling her ‘Sundar’ (beautiful) and ‘Susheel’ (virtuous).

"Ek sundar aur susheel ladki jiska naam hai Katrina Kaif... Swagat hai aapka 'Bharat' ki zindagi mein (A beautiful and virtuous girl named Katrina... We welcome you the world of 'Bharat')," Salman tweeted.

Meanwhile, Director Zafar has heaped praised on Salman-Katrina saying, "They are lovely together. The film is also very emotional and the characters are very rooted, simple and relatable. We hope that when the film comes out, people react positively to that."

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This is Zafar's third outing with Salman after ‘Sultan’ and ‘Tiger Zinda Hai, which was very well received at the Indian box office. Zafar had also directed Katrina in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, and is looking forward to working with his "three collaboration buddy".

As per sources, Katrina has stepped into a role which was to be played by Priyanka Chopra, who according to Zafar, opted out of the project ‘in the Nick of time’. His announcement hinted at US media speculations about Priyanka's engagement to American singer-songwriter Nick Jonas.

Bharat has already begun the first schedule of shooting, including a grand circus sequence featuring Salman and Disha Patani.