The Past Blast: Bharat's journey from Priyanka Chopra to Kareena Kapoor, Kabir Khan to Rajkumar Santoshi

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Kareena Kapoor was approached for Bharat
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Salman Khan’s third collaboration with Ali Abbas Zafar, Bharat, recently completed 2 years of it’s release and the fans celebrated the day on twitter. While the film didn’t collect as much as the duo’s previous two collaborations, Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai, it raked in near about Rs 200 crore at the domestic box-office. While the audience got to see the film with Ali as the director and Katrina as the female lead, a lot happened behind the scenes before this cast and set up was locked.

Salman along with his brother-in-law, Atul Agnihotri were planning to remake the Korean drama, An Ode To My Father since 2015 and right after they bagged the remake rights, they approached Rajkumar Hirani to come on board the film. The duo felt that Raju will do complete justice to the subject as it falls right in his zone of being a social drama laced with humor. They had multiple meetings with Hirani, however, the filmmaker back then was busy with the Sanjay Dutt biopic with Ranbir Kapoor.

He conveyed it to Khan and the team that he wouldn’t pick up on his next until the release of Sanju. The filmmaker said that the earliest that he could start work on Bharat will be from 2020, and given the fact that 2020 was far away, the makers decided to move on after taking some inputs from Raju Hirani on the script. From Hirani, they went to Kabir Khan, who had just worked with Salman successfully on Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

Rajkumar Hirani conveyed it to Khan and the team that he wouldn’t pick up on his next before the release of Sanju. The filmmaker said that the earliest that he could start work on Bharat will be from 2020
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Kabir was all excited by the idea of the original and had even started work to develop his adaptation of An Ode To My Father. However, after the not so good experience of Tubelight, Salman and Kabir were reportedly not on good terms and eventually the association fell off.  From Kabir Khan, they moved on to Rajkumar Santoshi, as Salman felt that the ace filmmaker has the knack of capturing a partition drama like no one else.  The filmmaker tried to develop his adaption; however, things didn’t fall in place as he wasn’t able to Indianize the Korean original.

Salman and Atul were clear on bring out the best possible adaptation of An Ode To My Father, considering that the plot had sky high potential. After these 3, Salman spoke to his Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai director, Ali Abbas Zafar, who was floored by the idea of getting the chance to narrate the journey of a man and nation together and began the work on his adaptation. He retained the essence of the original film, and brought in the heroics too, to blend the aura of Salman in the tale. The writer – director had two climaxes of Bharat with him – one where the father doesn’t return (present version) and one where the father returns back after 60 years.

After Priyanka's exxit, Salman, Ali and Atul wanted to bring Kareena Kapoor in the film, however, the actress cited date issues and eventually, it was Katrina who bagged the part
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After contemplating on both the climaxes, they finally went ahead with the version where father does not return. According to insiders, Salman was keen on having an happy ending, wherein the father returns thereby giving closure to the tale of Bharat, however eventually they all settled on the climax of father not returning, going ahead with an approach similar to the Korean classic. Moving on from the director hunt, the first choice to play the female lead was Priyanka Chopra, who stepped back due to her wedding with Nick. After PC, Salman, Ali and Atul wanted to bring Kareena Kapoor in the film, however, the actress cited date issues and eventually, it was Katrina Kaif who bagged the part.

As they say, it was quite a long journey for Bharat to make it to the spectacle.

Also Read| The Past Blast: When Ajay Devgn and Shahid Kapoor were to feature in a Priyadarshan directorial

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