After Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut stepped in as a director for Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, her co-actor Sonu Sood made an exit from the project. The original director of the film, Krish Jagarlamudi, departed the project to focus on a Telugu film.

According to reports, Kangana Ranaut said Sonu didn’t quit the film following any showdown but because he refused to work under a woman director.

Denying the allegations, Sonu issued a statement and said he was recently asked by Kangana to re-shoot portions for Manikarnika.

Due to this, he had asked the makers of the biopic to finish the re-shoots once he completed his schedule for Rohit Shetty’s Simmba, but things did not work out and he decided to quit the project.

“Sonu has always been a thorough professional and honoured all his commitments. He had informed the makers of ‘Manikarnika’ about his dates and schedule well in advance. Inconveniencing the team of his current film to accommodate the demands of another are against his professional principles. Sonu has taken the higher road ahead and wishes the team of ‘Manikarnika’ all the best,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

Producer Kamal Jain said Sonu and the film’s team mutually decided to part ways due to date issues.

“I have utmost respect and love for Sonu and he is like family to us. With a heavy heart, we have mutually decided to part ways due to his date unavailability. He is a thorough professional and has his dates committed to ‘Simmba’ which is also releasing in December. I would love to work with him in the future again,” he said.

Earlier, the news of Krish Jagarlamudi leaving the historical drama project had surfaced online after a picture of a clapboard featuring Kangana’s name as the director of the film went viral. However, it was later clarified by the National Award-winning actor’s team that she was just shooting the patchwork in the absence of Krish, who is currently busy fulfilling his commitments for another project.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the Queen actress said the actor “vehemently denied working under a woman director”. “Sonu and I haven’t even met since the last shot with Krish (director) last year. He is busy filming Simmba. He couldn’t even give us tentative dates to match combinations with other actors. The producers showed him the film and writers narrated the patchwork to him. He refused to meet me. He vehemently denied working under a woman director, which is kind of amusing because Sonu is a dear friend and I have even launched the music of a film that he produced at his request. Even though the team suggested that they have full faith in me, it seems, Sonu had neither dates nor faith,” Kangana said in a statement.

“And when I last spoke to him, he suggested that I can go ahead with someone else and when I narrated the script to Zeeshan Ayyub, he called the studio and gave the dates. By that time, it was too late as Zeeshan gave me dates for September. Now I hear I had a showdown with him. When I never met him, never directed him, when did I have this showdown?” she added.

Manikarnika is based on the valiant queen of Jhansi, Rani Laxmi Bai’s life story. The biographical flick will be featuring Danny Denzongpa and television actress Ankita Lokhande alongside Kangan Ranaut.