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Katrina Kaif, after going back and forth several times, had finally decided to decline Ayaan Mukerji’s offer to star in his next film opposite Ranbir Kapoor (Mumbai Mirror, 30 July 2011).

While ’date problems’ and ’pending projects’ were the major reasons cited for her refusal of the offer, the industry is abuzz with rumours of Salman Khan being the one person behind his ex-girlfriend’s decision.

Katrina, who is busy with Salman starrer Ek Tha Tiger and Yash Chopra’s next directorial venture opposite Shah Rukh Khan was apparently asked by Salman to opt out of Ayaan’s next project with Dharma.

According to industry insiders, Salman did not quite like the idea of Katrina working with Ranbir. Katrina and Ranbir, who were dating for a while after the actor’s breakup with Deepika Padukone, parted ways in March 2011.

A source informed Mumbai Mirror, "Katrina was taking her time to decide on Ayaan Mukerji’s because Salman had asked her to stay away from Ranbir. While she couldn’t turn down her good friend Ayaan, Katrina also had to pay heed to Salman. In fact, earlier Katrina had accepted Ayaan’s offer. But then she soon opted out of it."

The fact that Salman is not too fond of Ranbir is common knowledge in the industry. Years back, Salman had a nasty fight with the younger actor in a nightclub. Then to mend bridges, Salman sent Ranbir a painting of his grandfather Raj Kapoor. They became friends and they partied together. But Katrina’s closeness to Ranbir put an end to all of that.

Katrina on the other hand has always been close to Salman even after their romantic relationship came to an end. "Salman has always looked out for Katrina in the industry. He has been like a guide to her. She obviously could not just ignore his wishes when it came to Ayaan’s film," added the source.

A friend of Katrina maintained, "Katrina is not doing Ayaan’s film. But that’s certainly not due to Salman Khan."

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