Nisha (Karisma Kapoor) is in love with her old friend Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan), the director of the dance troupe she works in, but Rahul doesn't believe in love, until he falls for Pooja (Madhuri Dixit), an orphan engaged to childhood friend Ajay (Akshay Kumar, in a guest appearance). Much angst, and singing and dancing, ensues...
Made in 1997, Dil To Pagal Hai ("The Heart is Crazy") was a runaway hit, with the songs and the performances of the main actors being highly praised. Considered a must-see among many Bollywood fans, largely on account of the pairing, or "jodi," of Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit, two extremely popular stars who rarely work together.
This film provides examples of:
- All Love Is Unrequited: Rahul and Nisha have a conversation in the third act in which they basically say this outright, with Nisha heartbroken over Rahul and angry at herself for being unable to be happy for him, and Rahul pining after Pooja and angry that he can't just love Nisha instead. Ultimately subverted, though.
- All-Star Cast: Shahrukh and Madhuri were and are considered to be superstars, and Karisma Kapoor and Akshay Kumar would have been at least A-list or upper B-list stars at the time as well.
- Almost Kiss: One of the most memorable scenes from the movie revolves around this trope. Rahul has Pooja's bangle and refuses to give it back until she comes closer... and closer... and closer...
- Arranged Marriage: Pooja is all set to marry Ajay so that she can officially be part of her adopted family until she falls in love with Rahul. This trope is somewhat subverted in that while Pooja isn't in love with Ajay and his parents are overjoyed at the prospect, Ajay initiated the whole thing before his parents even found out about it.
- Betty and Veronica: Pooja is the sweet, demure Betty who dresses in saris and dreams of true love, while Nisha is the brash, modern Veronica who is generally comfortable wearing and saying what she wants. This even extends to their dance styles. Pooja's style draws more from the ancient classical style of Kathak (which Madhuri Dixit is a trained dancer in), while Nisha primarily dances in more Western-influenced motions.
- However, this is reversed in their respective roles in Rahul's life. Nisha has been friends with Rahul long enough that he has no hesitation in barging into her apartment when he needs to, while he and Pooja don't even meet until intermission.
- Can't Spit It Out
- Childhood Friends: Ajay and Pooja. They're technically adoptive siblings, but seem to just view themselves as best friends rather than brother and sister.
- Crowd Song
- The Charmer: Rahul. Unsurprising considering it's Shah Rukh Khan that plays him.
- Fatal Flaw: Pooja's willingness to sacrifice her own happiness in order to avoid hurting somebody else. If it weren't for Ajay intervening at the eleventh hour and telling her that their engagement was a bad idea, basically everybody would have ended up unhappy.
- First Girl Wins: Nisha is the first girl in Rahul's life and the first one the audience sees in the story proper, but Pooja is the one the audience sees and hears talking about the Red String of Fate in the prologue portion before the opening credits.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Nisha and Ajay both ultimately have this attitude, although Nisha takes it Up to Eleven, becoming so distraught on Rahul's behalf when it looks as though he and Pooja aren't going to get together that she's almost in tears.
- Just Friends: Rahul and Nisha and Pooja and Ajay are both pairs of platonic friends who have known each other for years and who suddenly have their relationship complicated by one of them catching feelings that the other doesn't reciprocate. Pooja also tries to keep her relationship with Rahul in this territory due to becoming engaged to Ajay.
- Love Hurts: And how!
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Deconstructed with Pooja. She has the archetypal carefree and quirky personality and enters Rahul's life as his muse because of her similarity to "Maya," the character in his head. However, the real Pooja is also her own person with her own life, priorities, and flaws, and the two of them only start to connect romantically after Rahul stops equating her with Maya and begins treating her with more sensitivity and respect.
- Mating Dance: Rahul on the bongos being answered by Pooja's ankle bells in the adjoining room. This somehow manages to fit the trope despite the fact that they don't actually see each other until the end of the sequence.
- Meet Cute: Comes comparatively late in the film, when Rahul hunts Pooja down while she's buying groceries to convince her to be in his play after seeing her dance the night before. It does not go smoothly.
- Prima Donna Director: Despite coming off as rather childish and being fun-loving, goofy and sometimes awkward, Rahul takes his art very seriously and can be a bit of a tyrant in the studio.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Rahul and Nisha angrily railing against God and fate because All Love Is Unrequited.
- Red String of Fate: Pooja pretty much recites the definition of this in the opening monologue. Suffice to say it is a factor in her love life, as well as a major theme of the film.
- Ship Tease: With a slight bit of Pair the Spares for Ajay and Nisha at the end. Although it's mostly played for laughs.