Poor Nisha/Karisma! So much more interesting than “just” a third leg of a triangle should be. She deserves a happy ending, right?
What makes Nisha interesting is that she is fully aware of her situation. Usually the third leg of the triangle is deluded in some way, misunderstands something which makes her fall in love, something like that. But Nisha is a woman who falls in love all on her own, without needing any false encouragement. And who makes mature decisions about what to do about her love, no emotional blackmail or drama.
Nisha and Shahrukh are best friends and artistic collaborators. She has been in love with him for a while but hasn’t said anything, because she knows him well enough to know he doesn’t feel the same way. It finally comes out by accident when she is drunk, and Nisha takes the lead on how to respond to it, offers to leave town for a while, let him figure out how he feels. And then she breaks her ankle, and suddenly their cautious movement to working things out has a new element with Madhuri, the woman out of nowhere who Shahrukh responds to in the way Nisha wanted him to respond to her. At first Nisha is angry, and jealous. How can Shahrukh feel for this other woman what it would make so much more sense for him to feel for Nisha? Especially when Nisha and Madhuri are so similar, both dancers, both working closely with Shahrukh, and yet he picked the newcomer woman who barely knows him over his best friend. But eventually, Nisha makes another mature choice. She understands that there is no logic or fairness to any of it, it just is what it is. And so she helps Shahrukh and Madhuri be together and be happy because it is the right thing to do.
Isn’t that remarkable? And mature and interesting and different for a female character in a Hindi movie? She deserves more than to be written out with a vague implication of a future romance with Akshay (similarly dumped by Madhuri).
Now, I don’t have any of them fully fleshed out, but I have several ideas.
- The doctor who treats her ankle falls in love with Nisha
Nisha and Shahrukh are in a holding pattern with her in love with him and knowing he doesn’t feel the same way, and him wishing he could fall in love with her because it would make so much sense. Then she breaks her ankle and gets sent to the hospital to recover. At the hospital, her young very very attractive doctor (who was hot in 1998? Salman maybe? Let’s use him as a placeholder) confesses to being a bit starstruck because he has seen her dance on stage. Karisma is flattered, but not interested. The young doctor starts coming around to check on her special, the nurses tease both of them, he doesn’t bother hiding his interest, but all in a very respectful and humble way. Obviously a great famous beautiful charming woman like her would not be interested in him. After Nisha gets out of the hospital, while working through her jealousy and misery seeing Shahrukh in love, she calls up the doctor in the middle of the night, drunk and suicidal. He comes, he takes care of her, he cheers her up. But she emotionally tells him to forget her, she can never truly love anyone but Shahrukh, she is a mess. He tells her he doesn’t care, he loves her enough for both of them and just wants to make her happy. But she is an ethical person, she won’t weaken and agree to that, sends him away. And then she further sacrifices by arranging for Madhuri and Shahrukh to finally admit their love to each other. But she realizes she will be a blot on their happiness, she has to go away so they can feel free. She calls the doctor and says she is ready to marry him, but only if he understands she doesn’t love him, maybe will never be able to love him. And only if they elope and get married now, tonight. They do it, and Karisma sends the photo of them with false smiles at the wedding fire to Shahrukh. Post-marriage, the doctor continues to be awesome. He makes it clear that he is not expecting them to sleep together, but he is expecting her to go out on dates with him, get presents, generally be spoiled like a beloved new bride. And his grandmother who he lives with adores her. She slowly starts to get used to this new life, culminating in her husband surprising her with a dance studio, so she can start teaching. Karisma begins to think she might be in love with her husband after all. And then, Shahrukh reappears. He is emotional and needy, he and Madhuri had a big fight and she called off the engagement. It wasn’t real love after all, it was just enfatuation. Karisma, maybe it was her all along, maybe Shahrukh really loves her. She should leave her husband, he knows she got married just to forget him, and come with him. It can be like before, they can be happy. Karisma gently turns him down, explains that she will always love him but she is happy in her new life and doesn’t want to go backwards. And he should go talk to Madhuri and apologize. But the doctor husband overheard! And misunderstood. Karisma returns home to find that the doctor has already packed her up and is ready for her to move out. He explains that they gave it 6 months, but it isn’t working out. So he is calling it quits. Karisma is heartbroken. Luckily, the doctor’s wise grandmother Knows Everything. She could tell from how they looked at each other that Karisma wasn’t in love at first, but is in love now. She tracks down Karisma and convinces her to come home. The doctor arrives home from work that night, tired and depressed, to find Karisma waiting dressed in the family wedding sari, because she wants to get married again, for real, and have their first night, for real. HAPPY ENDING.
2. A millionaire falls in love with Nisha
This time, the love story happens before the injury when she is taking her vacation from Shahrukh so they can work out their feelings. Karisma arrives in a European resort town (Switzerland maybe?) to visit her aunt, and while walking through town, a scruffy looking desi man approaches her and asks for money with an unbelievable story of losing his wallet, his car breaking down, and so on. Karisma’s aunt tells her to walk on, he’s a con man, but Karisma says even if it is a lie, he is still in a trouble and a fellow Indian. She goes back and gives him money, and offers to buy him a meal. While she is being kind and asking if he has a place to stay, if she can help him find work, and so on, a big limo pulls up and the driver gets out and greets him. He actually was a millionaire! The next day, he shows up at Karisma’s aunt’s house to pay back the money she loaned him and insists on taking her out for a meal to pay back the free meal. It turns into a magical courtship, he jets her off to Paris, teaches her to ski, wants to see her dance so he rents out an auditorium. And in the end, he says he wants to talk and it seems like he is about to propose. She cuts him off before he can embarrass himself, and turns him down because she has only known him 3 days, this is crazy, and also she is still in love with Shahrukh and not sure what is going to happen there. She goes back, breaks her ankle, realizes Shahrukh is in love with someone else. The whole time the millionaire keeps reaching out and her aunt feeds him info too. He sends flowers to fill up her hospital room, antique dancing bells to encourage her to go back to dancing, and generally is a long distance support system. When Shahrukh and Madhuri get engaged, she stumbles out of the theater to find him waiting in his limo to whisk her away. He takes her on a magical trip away from it all in Europe but she keeps resisting his proposals. In the middle of the trip, he suddenly has to return home, he wants her to stay at the hotel, he will pay for everything, but she insists on going with him. Turns out, he has a crippled daughter and a developmentally disabled younger brother that he takes care of. He was going to tell her, that was when she thought he was proposing. And now he is trying to cheer her up, didn’t want to put his own problems on her. Seeing this vulnerability makes her start to feel differently about him. Especially when she sees him with his daughter and brother, being so kind and gentle. She is ready to propose to him (following the suggestion of his daughter who sees Everything and knows he will never propose to her once she turned him down), and then Shahrukh shows up. Same as above, blah blah, Madhuri dumped him, wants Karisma back, boooo! But this time the millionaire overhears the important part, when Karisma says she isn’t coming back and it’s not because the millionaire is a millionaire, she would stay with him if he had no money, he is just a better man than Shahrukh. Later that night, he surprises her by proposing again, this time not in a big romantic gesture, but just sitting around the kitchen table with his family watching. HAPPY ENDING.
3. Nisha Gets Shahrukh After All
Everything happens as in the movie, but then one day while planning the wedding, Shahrukh wakes up and is suddenly not in love with Madhuri any more. She is so romantic about planning the wedding, she doesn’t laugh at his jokes, they just don’t enjoy spending time together. Karisma has tried to move on with Akshay, they get engaged because it just makes sense and seems reasonable. And actually, their engagement is going more smoothly than Madhuri and Shahrukh’s. They at least are willing to compromise, while Madhuri is frustrated by Shahrukh’s inability to understand how important the romance and true love part is to her, and Shahrukh is frustrated by her inability to understand when he has to work late, or when he just doesn’t care that much about the centerpieces at the reception. The two couples are constantly thrown together because Akshay’s parents are Madhuri’s foster parents and are helping to plan both weddings. Plus, Madhuri decides she doesn’t want to perform any more because she wants to be a full time wife, which means Karisma jumps in to help with the show and she and Shahrukh are thrown together all the time. Eventually, Shahrukh catches feelings, comes to understand that love is about more than some magical split second connection. He keeps it inside though, because he thinks Karisma is happy with Akshay. Shahrukh now goes through all the torment Karisma went through in the first half. And he also realizes he has to tell Madhuri the truth, he can’t marry her like this, loving someone else. Madhuri is heartbroken, but somehow not surprised. And because she is ultimately a decent person, she goes and talks to Karisma and tells her about Shahrukh’s feelings. Karisma is now left with the choice of turning her back on love, or leaving poor Akshay at the alter AGAIN. Because it’s only fair (and how can she trust Shahrukh’s feelings this time?), she goes through with the wedding. Until at the last minute, Akshay stops it and gives a speech about how he can see that Karisma and Shahrukh fit together, and he deserves to be better than anyone’s second choice.
Okay, which option do we like best? And who do we cast in option 1 and 2?