Mumbai: Actor John Abraham, who is stepping into the shoes of Akshay Kumar, for the sequel of `Welcome` says that the `Khiladi` was happy that he is taking the franchise forward.
The makers of `Welcome Back` have cast John Abraham and Shruti Hassan as the new additions while Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor will be reprising their roles.
"I enjoyed watching `Welcome`. When I signed the film the first person I called was Akshay. When I told him about the film and role, he was very happy," John told reporters here at the mahurat of `Welcome Back`.
The 2007 hit comedy had Akshay playing the innocent guy who falls in love with underworld don Uday Shetty`s (Nana Patekar) sister Sanjana, essayed by Katrina Kaif.
"John is playing the lead in Welcome Back. But he (John) is not stepping into Akshay`s role...We have created a new role. While Nana and Anil will reprise the roles of Uday and Majnu," director Anees Bazmee said.
"In the first part Akshay played a good innocent guy while the sequel will see John in a completely different avatar," he said, without divluging the details.
Reportedly, producer Feroz Nadiadwala had a fall-out with Akshay Kumar.
John is happy to be part of this successful franchise and to team up with actors like Paresh, Nana and Anil. He has worked with all three in different projects.
"All the three are by far better than me as actors. Paresh has an unbelievable comic timing, he is brilliant. Anil is energetic and younger while Nana is the nicest and lovliest person," John said.
Shruti who will be replacing Katrina and is looking forward to this project.
"It is amazing to work with such talented people. I am not expecting to be pampered," she added.
Before finalsing Shruti, the makers were considering Sonakshi and Asin but roped in Shruti as she fit the bill.
Meanwhile, John is happy with the response of his recently released film `Madras Cafe`.
"I am happy with the response of critics, audience. The collections (box office collection) are amazing... Hoping more people like it. It depends on the number of screens we get," he said.