Fawad Khan in a screengrab from JPNA2 Image Credit:

In its ninth week running, Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 (JPNA2)continues to conquer the box office in Pakistan, approaching the unheard-of Rs500 million (Dh13.7 million) mark (counting the domestic figures only). Strangely, though, the mysterious ‘omission’ of an approximately seven-minute-long special appearance in the film by Fawad Khan hasn’t been accounted for.

It all began when guests at JPNA2’s premieres in Lahore and Karachi left theatres unamused by Khan’s kohl-eyed rockstar with blonde locks, black nails, and a bad lisp. The reaction was that his sequence looked forced, and no one was sure why the Khubsoorat star needed to do this sort of a cameo. The next we knew, the entire part had been chucked out when the movie was released in theatres across the country.

This obviously got curious media folk talking. When quizzed, scriptwriter and actor Vasay Chaudhry blamed it on last-minute, poor subtitling. But insiders say that the makers of Pakistan’s most successful movie franchise got apprehensive seeing the audience’s response at the premieres. So, they quietly removed Khan’s scenes. It didn’t make any difference to the film’s plot or pace, but Khan’s fans felt shortchanged.

The story doesn’t end here. The edits could not be made in the film’s Digital Cinema Package for international markets, as it had been shipped already. As a result, there have been two versions of JPNA2 showing in cinemas — one, which features Khan, in cinemas outside Pakistan; and the other, without him, in local theatres.

However, both the versions still have Khan in a nano-second appearance right after the end credits have rolled, where he makes the ‘lisping’ declaration: “Part three toh banta hai!” (There ought to be a part three of the movie). Styled a la Captain Jack (from Pirates of the Caribbean), Khan comes as a rude shock because the audiences cannot tell what it is all about. They are also left guessing if this is a kind of an announcement that Khan is going to star in the (prospective) third instalment of the movie. This conclusion is obviously based on the fact that Fahad Mustafa had similarly popped up at the very end of JPNA (part one), and later landed a major role in its sequel.

Producer and lead actor of JPNA2 Humayun Saeed rejects such speculation as “irrational.” Talking to Gulf News tabloid! he says: “We’re definitely going for the third part [of JPNA], but there are no plans to cast Fawad [in it].”

Saeed also expresses shock at the fact that the local cinemas should be showing JPNA2 without Khan’s scenes: “There was some issue with the subtitles, but we fixed it very soon, and added his [Fawad Khan’s] scenes back in the film.”

On the other hand, a lot of people who watched the movie recently in Lahore say Khan was nowhere to be seen. Again, Saeed has an explanation: “It’s possible that some theatres didn’t receive the revised prints; they must still be playing the old version.”

It may be mentioned here that Khan’s is only one of the many star cameos we see in JPNA2 — such as Hamza Ali Abbasi, Sara Loren, and model Omer Shahzad. The film ‘version’ with Khan’s complete sequence has renowned hairstylist Shammal Qureshi and fast rising model Rehmat Ajmal in brief stints.