Zooni, a pretty young blind woman from the mountains of India, is making her first trip to the big city of Delhi in Bollywood movie Fanaa (Love… Destroys). Her loving parents are nervous about their innocent daughter, but believe the trip is the only possible way she’ll ever find a husband, and thus release her into the care of a group of bickering girlfriends. Almost immediately, Zooni falls for hunky womanizing tour guide Rehan, and gives her chaperones the slip long enough to be taken on a sensory (and sensual) private tour of Delhi. For his part, Rehan makes it clear that he does not believe in love, but decides to retrieve Zooni from the train home against his better judgment, promising to marry her.

Zooni calls her parents and excitedly tells them they’ll have a son-in-law after all, and they make plans to come to Delhi at once. Rehan’s last official act as a good boyfriend is to take Zooni to the eye doctor for a long neglected check-up, and the doctor offers her retinal replacement surgery. (Such an operation is fictional at this point, although scientists continue to experiment with artificial retinas.) Amazingly, Zooni can see as soon as the bandages come off; no need to wait for her eyes to heal or for the neurons in her brain to rewire themselves in Bollywood. She recognizes her mother immediately, but their happiness is short-lived; Rehan has been killed in a terrorist attack that same day.

After a seven-year intermission, Fanaa takes a strange and unexpected twist. Zooni and her young son Rehan (named after his father, naturally) are living in the snowy remote mountains with her parents when a wounded Kashmiri special agent masquerading as an Indian soldier happens to collapse on their doorstep. Though her blindness is magically no longer an issue, it becomes a plot device to explain why Zooni is unable to identify the soldier by sight, yet begins having flashbacks every time he speaks. The patriotic Zooni soon must choose between love and country, but the soldier makes the choice easy for her by killing her father and plotting to detonate a nuclear bomb.