It started as a joke and that's how it should've remained. Is Salman Khan the unbilled mystery man in Ken Ghosh's "Fida"?
The answer is an emphatic "No!" Salman does not figure in the cast of this Kareena-Shahid Kapur-Fardeen Khan thriller at all.
What prompted Star News channel to carry a breathless story on Salman's "surprise appearance" in Fida?
Apparently at a press meet, Salman said he looked younger than Shahid Kapur. This off-the-cuff remark was misconstrued as an admission that he was the secret ace up director Ken Ghosh's sleeve.
But according an inside source: "Salman is a hundred percent not in 'Fida'. It's a speculation started by a trade writer in Mumbai. Tips isn't killing the obviously misleading rumour because it suits them fine for people to presume that Salman is part of the cast.
"But the studied silence could backfire on the film if audiences go expecting Salman to pop up in the plot."
Lots of similar red herrings are being strewn as the release date of "Fida" approaches.
One prominent newspaper in New Delhi wrote that "Fida" was based on the Jim Carrey film "The Truman Show". This, probably because of the catch-line about someone else having written Kareena and Shahid's love story in the film.
Another publication jumped to the conclusion that "Fida" was based on Sharon Stone's "Sliver".
But Lalit Mahajan, who wrote the "edgy thriller" (he has also written this week's release Abbas-Mustan's "Taarzan The Wonder Car"), denies that "Fida" is inspired by any source.
Interestingly, "Fida" was once supposed to be directed by the maestros of suspense, Abbas-Mustan, with Sanjay Dutt, Bobby Deol and Amisha Patel in the lead.
Director Ken Ghosh said: "People's expectations and all this speculation are scaring me. People went to my first film 'Ishq Vishq' with no expectations. I hope they don't go to 'Fida' with too many expectations."