Last December, soon after she had wrapped up the first season of her chat show, Tere Mere Beach Mein, Farah Khan, who was busy choreographing a fashion show for a leading lingerie brand, had admitted that she was gearing up for another reality show.
"But this one will be only for four-five weeks, on the lines of the Miss India contest and America's Next Top Model. Hopefully, it will get us the glam girl we're looking to cast opposite Akshay (Kumar) in my next film as a director, Tees Maar Khan," she had informed, says a media report.
Even at that time, Katrina Kaif's name was making the rounds as a likely choice for the coveted role. But when quizzed on the subject, Farah had asserted, "I'd love to work with Katrina, but we have still to decide whether to opt for an established name or a new face. If it is the latter, we'll go with the winner of the show."
Soon after, rumour mills were abuzz with the news that Priyanka Chopra had been finalised for the role.
She had been successfully paired with Akshay in films like Andaaz (2003), Aitraaz (2004), Mujhse Shaadi Karoge (2004) and Waqt (2005), but following rumours of a link-up, the two had parted ways professionally in 2004 and not signed on any new films together.
According to a recent report, while Priyanka had no problems teaming up with the co-star again, actor and co-producer Akshay Kumar was not keen on her being a part of Tees Maar Khan.
After a long discussion with Farah, it was mutually decided to opt for another one of his viable leading ladies -Katrina Kaif. When quizzed on the casting change, Khan said, "From among the established Bollywood actresses, only Katrina was approached for the role," reiterating that she had initially wanted to launch a newcomer.
"But the film was to flag off in March and till the end of January, even after several auditions, we had not found anyone who elicited the "Wow, mind-blowing!' response," she says in hindsight.
Farah points out that even if they had continued with the hunt, it would have been a tall order to pick up raw talent and groom her in a matter of weeks.
"Deepika (Padukone) was a seasoned model, yet she underwent a six-month training in acting and voice modulation at Anupam Kher's school, before she faced the camera for Om Shanti Om (2007). There was no time for that here," she argues.
All through the hunt, she says, she had been looking for a girl "just like Katrina." One day, when Farah was chatting with Katrina, the young actress said to her, "Why are you looking for someone like me, why don't you just take me?"
The reasoning made sense and since Katrina fit the bill perfectly, Farah had no hesitation in doing just that. "Katrina is beautiful, talented and has great screen presence. That I knew already. What I didn't know was that she also had great comic timing. That was a welcome surprise," Farah beams.
Her lead actress has been quoted as saying, that she took on a few projects in the past because Akshay Kumar had strongly recommended them, but in the case of Tees Maar Khan, she gave the nod only because of Farah.
To this the director retorts with a laugh, "That I can believe. Given that the last film she did for Akshay was De Dana Dan. After working with her, I've realised that, like Akshay, Tees Maar Khan was meant for Katrina and vice versa."