“Manic pixie dream girl” in Bollywood

This is not some disease one gets infected with. It is rather a common trope often entangling female protagonists in the movies we watch. And our lovely Bollywood has a special inclination towards it.

Growing up I watched various films and sometimes was left with this sense of “ah, I liked the story but I just couldn’t care less about the female lead” or sometimes felt as though the character development was one sided.

Enter the Manic Pixie dream girl, the answer to all my problems

The “Manic pixie dream girl”, coined by Nathan Rabin is the female protagonist whose whole motive throughout the film is to show light of the day to the broody and overburdened male protagonist and to make him turn a new leaf. A few standout examples are Geet from Jab We Met and Leila from Zindagi Na mileage Dobara.

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Geet and Aditya (Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor) from Jab We Met

The common underline is that all of the females are flawless. They are happy and contented with their life, not burdened with their professional careers and are sunshine personified. The problem however is that there exists nothing which can tick all of the above boxes. Therefore in order to be consistent with the idea, we end up getting a shallow, cardboard like female character who happens to share the screen only with the hero around.

Taking a look at Geet (Jab we met) , her bubbly over to top entry into the young, rich, dull, and work centric Aditya’s life is all he needed to become a “new man”.

I realise now that we don’t get to see anything about Geet and don’t see her raw emotions unveil. The only scene where is somewhat happens is again something related to her love life.

Katrina Kaif Online on X: "Katrina Kaif as the free spirited Laila in  Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara ☀️ https://t.co/1j8pAestWK" / X
Layla (Katrina Kaif) from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobra

Layla of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, is an often mentioned example portraying this trope. Although she does fit right into the narrative, I can’t shy away from saying that I did indeed like her character, and that it was well written out. It isn’t necessary to always give all the characters equal depth, even if the character in discussion is being acted out by THE Katrina Kaif. This story was about the boys from the beginning till the end. She has passions which she fulfils by travelling. Although she does bring some sense into Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), it is his environment and friends combined with Leila’s presence which actually bring the change. And the most important distinction is that all of this is being done by her NOT at the cost of her own likings, something common with the other examples.

I might be biased in her case because of my utter love towards the film, but it is just that the negativity which comes with linking Leila and Manic Pixie is not justified.

Manic Pixie Dream Boys

There are, although not as many, but couple of prominent male counterparts of this trope.

One thing however which is starkly different is that somehow, they always end up becoming the centre of attention and also the main lead at times. The feature of a Manic Pixie girl is that her presence isn’t long-lasting in the the viewers minds. In the male version however, we end up getting a character which somehow is even more interesting than the stereotypical heroes.

As an example, we have everyones love, Sunny Gill (Farhan Akhtar) from Dil Dhadakne Do

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Sunny Gill (Farhan Akhtar) from Dil Dhadakne Do)

Now anyone who watched this movie very well knows that his character DID NOT lack depth nor did it seem unnecessary.

So yes there is absolutely no problem with such characters appearing now and then in a film DEFINED about the male lead. There is no need to mask such roles as “lead roles’ when they aren’t.

It is good to see better representation of females FROM the female gaze due to up and coming female directors and creatives.

And let me tell you, a complicated female character is a ROLLER COASTER of emotions and drama.

I see great potential

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