With Deepika Padukone opting out of Salman's ''Sultan'', it seems unlikely that the two will ever pair up in any film. This is the fifth film that Deepika has declined with Salman, the last being Sajid Nadidwala's ''Kick''.
Now, Anushka Sharma has happily stepped into ''Sultan''. While it is known that Salman Khan plays a wrestler in director Ali Abbas Zafar's ''Sultan'', it now comes to light that Anushka Sharma who has just been signed on to play Salman's female lead, also plays an athlete, a wrestler to be more precise. According to sources, the delay in signing a leading lady happened as the film's producer Aditya Chopra and director Ali Abbas Zafar wanted to sign an A-list heroine with an athletic personality/background. And who better than Deepika? Her father is a badminton champ and sister is a golfer. Deepika herself is very sporty. But she said no to ''Sultan''.
"Deepika Padukone, Parineeti Chopra and Kangana Ranaut were considered. Deepika, who comes from a family of sportspersons, turned down the role. With Parineeti too, the deal didn't work out and Kangana also said no. The team was in a fix. They needed a leading lady who would look convincing as an athlete. They had two options. Either they would find an A-list actress who would be credible in the akaadha (wrestling ring) or they could sign a newcomer," informs a source.
In fact, the Sultan makers were on the verge of getting a newcomer on board, when the deal with Anushka worked out. Anushka Sharma, who hasn't signed any new film after Zoya Akhtar's ''Dil Dhadakne Do'' and has only one film on the floors-Karan Johar's ''Ae Dil Hai Mushkil''-hopped on board for ''Sultan'' at the last moment for two reasons.
"She loved her spirited sportsperson's role. And, she has never worked with Salman Khan before," the source said.