Rachana Dubey (MID-DAY; July 22, 2017)

Had everything worked out as planned, director Faruk Kabir's Haafiz would have been Sooraj Pancholi's second outing after the Salman Khan-backed debut, Hero (2015). Announced in early 2017, the film was to start rolling by mid-July. However, despite physical and mental preparation from the actor's end and a bulk allotment of 78 days, the Kumar Mangat production couldn't take off. And now, BT has it that Sooraj has opted out of the project.

A source close to the movie says that the production house could neither finalize the script nor procure the permission for desired locations (in Morocco), which pushed the project further by a couple of months. The source adds, “Sooraj was asked to allot a fresh set of dates in the September/October window this year. However, since he has already committed those to Prabhu Dheva's recently-announced next outing, which also requires about 60-70 days in one go, he couldn't accommodate Hafiz. Also, while Prabhu Dheva's action flick needs him to maintain his body as it is, Hafiz required him to knock off 10 kilos. That made it impossible for him to even consider juggling the two projects. After the Prabhu Dheva film, Sooraj is also expected to take off on an international tour with Salman. So, he chose to opt out of Hafiz.“

We contacted Kumar Mangat and Sooraj, but neither reverted till we went to press.