How We Met
Several years ago in Philadelphia, I took this girl I met randomly one night to see The Lion King 3D at the Franklin Institute Museum. This movie has always held a special place in our hearts and was my inspiration growing up for getting into filmmaking. Nishi, a pharmacist, and I, a filmmaker, led vastly different lives professionally but movies and music always connected us, especially when we ended up living on opposite coasts (Philly and LA) for years to pursue our dreams. While the roses I gave her faded away, the moments of salsa dancing from our first dates came and went, and the Christmas visits back to the east coast involved brief cozy times watching The Holiday, we stuck through the hardships of long-distance knowing in our hearts that one day we would be together.
Cut to the last couple years after moving to LA, I always kept that ticket in a shoebox knowing in the back of my mind that if this girl were the one, it would come in handy one day. And in what felt like fate, I had the privilege to be a part of Disney’s The Lion King remake by Jon Favreau. Sometimes life just finds a way for the timing to be just perfect (a sort-of Circle of Life, if you will), and July 11th, 2019 was that perfect day.
How They Asked
July 11, 2019, may just seem like an ordinary Thursday, but little did Nishi know it would be a day to change her life forever. While completing production on The Lion King, by chance (or divine intervention) it so happened the Cast & Crew Screening of the film would take place on the exact day just 8 years after the first moment I bumped into her in Philadelphia. I knew this had to be the day, but needed to do revolve something special around this.
Nishi always said that if we were to ever take the next step, that she would like me to propose both private and reflective of us. Me being a bit “extra” takes this as a challenge. If private is what she wants, then I wanted to plan the most private proposal ever, on a remote location where the only way you can get there is by helicopter.
So I proceeded to work with the team at Orbic Air (https://orbicair.com) to construct a proposal at this landing location seen above on top of the Malibu Mountains with just a picnic table and a gorgeous ocean view. How did I get her to go to an airport to board a helicopter? Well, I Photoshopped our Cast and Crew Screening invitation and told her that Disney wanted to go all out for this premiere by renting out a hangar near their Burbank studio. Nishi was so excited to be going to a Hollywood movie premiere.
Since we were in separate parts of LA, I mentioned that we were provided free Uber codes and proceeded to order her a car so I can ensure she arrives at the airport on time. While she is en route, I left something special behind with one of the pilots and proceeded to take another helicopter to the Malibu landing zone where I mentally prepared for the big moment.
When she arrived at the airport, one of the Orbic Air hosts greeted her with a clipboard asking for her name to check her into the guest list of the fake The Lion KingVIP entrance. She walked a short red carpet while she waited in the lobby with a glass of champagne hearing music from the film on the speakers. Still unsuspecting, Nishi boards the golf cart shuttle which the host mentions is how she will get to where the premiere will take place. This is where she gets suspicious but by the time she does the golf cart slows down and she is approached by a pilot with a piece of paper. As she unfolds the paper, the pilot says to her “Just Believe”, a phrase I would often say to her when long-distance would get tough. She begins to tear when she reads what’s on the paper – the original tickets from The Lion King 3Dwe saw all those years ago.
As Nishi gathers her emotions, she is whisked away on a helicopter ride anticipating what is about to come up next with her head in the clouds (literally).
The helicopter slowly lands on the Malibu mountains with Maestro from The Holiday playing on the portable speakers. To be honest, the moment I saw her I was a puddle. She walked up to me and I proceeded to tell her about this fairytale about two people who shared a simple glance that changed their lives forever – our story.
And then I got down on one knee and asked the question…
And voilà, proof that she said yes :) Now about that special rock ring itself was custom-designed in 3D and in VR in partnership with a mutual friend, with a beautiful oval diamond sitting on a lotus-shaped base with eight petals – one for every year I had known her.
But that’s not the end of this proposal! As we popped and sipped our glass of champagne, what better way to celebrate than recreating the first date we ever went on. The music on the speakers switched and what played was the song from our very first salsa class together – Buena Vista Social Club & Coldplay’s Clocks. With the wind in our hairs and the ocean behind us, we stumbled our way through the song full of smiles and laughter.
Alas, it was time to go. We got back in the helicopter and flew over Santa Monica, past the Hollywood Sign, back to Burbank for the first time ever as an engaged couple back in reality.
Oh, and yes there still was a movie premiere that night at the El Capitan Theater. We rushed over to the theater in front of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and watched a movie that meant so much to us. Leaving the theater, we had a luxurious dinner at Taco Bell, her favorite comfort food spot and called it a night. ‘Twas the most perfect day.
In our dreams, this night…this moment replayed in our head over and over again. And as I write all this, the image below still feels like a dream. But honestly, if this is what life is like dreaming, I couldn’t be happier to go on this crazy adventure with anyone else but my fiancée Nishi.