Pop culture has been bombarding us with variations of cinematic tropes, and one of these well-known tropes is the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’. The character of the manic pixie dream girl is largely written and shaped, for and opposite, to the depressed and lonely male protagonist, who is mainly going through an existential crisis.
The manic pixie dream girl has been quite popular in Bollywood as well as in films abroad. She is often portrayed to be conventionally attractive, reflects an enchanting charisma from the get-go and has a cheerful and bubbly persona. Furthermore, she is outgoing and fun to be around. She is generally quirky and fits the ‘I am not like other girls’ cliché, as her speech and actions suggest. She belongs to the creed of YOLO.
The instances of this trope can be traced from various movies, including Elizabethan Town, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Ghajini and many more. While women with these characteristics are undoubtedly amazing, the trope turns out to be problematic because of the misrepresentation of these characters.
Firstly, the portrayal of their personalities is mostly dimensional and the characters often lack depth and layers to their identity. As the name suggests, these women are merely an object of appeasing male fantasy, who are often mistaken to exist in reality. Secondly, while these characteristics could be a part of one’s personality, they are incapable of defining the person entirely.
The manic pixie dream girl generally does not have her own goals and problems in life, and exists, only for a matter of enlightening the dull male protagonists to adapt to a cheerful vision of life. On the part of the makers, there is little to no accountability shown towards the mental health of this character. She is invariably available to enrich your mental health, but the concept does not exist on her own.
The trope is perpetually and unrealistically cheerful, even when suffering through befallen misery. This strengthens the preconceived notions towards a woman’s personality that often lacks awareness of her mental health issues. This trope imposes an immense amount of pressure on female romantic partners, as it is quite impossible to conform to the unrealistic standards set in the minds of the majority of men in society. The trope is often composed from the male perspective and leaves no room for a realistic portrayal of the dimensions carried in the personality of women.
The Character of Geet: Breaking Stereotypes
The character of Geet from Jab We Met, is frequently labelled as being the ultimate manic pixie dream girl. While she is shaped by various qualities of the trope, Imtiaz Ali managed to break the stereotype in the second half. Being cheerful and outgoing does not make Geet the manic pixie dream girl. This could be traced from the portrayal of her character when befallen misery. Geet exhibited human emotions when her feelings were hurt by an individual. Instead of fitting the cliché and laughing off the feelings, she rather embraced her emotions and gave herself the needed time to grieve. Her character was portrayed to be multidimensional and went through various phases and showed realistic development. Even from the get-go, she had her ambitions and goals in life. Geet, one of the most iconic characters of Bollywood, managed to break the manic pixie dream girl stereotype and felt like a breath of fresh air.
Although the manic pixie dream girls are more or less likable characters, they should be looked at through a different and realistic perspective. The makers, writers or the directors, need to add more depth to such characters, hence formulating them to be multi-dimensional and realistic.
Ashna Arif is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Shoa Falak