So. The Internet introduced me to a new cinematic trope recently-that of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG). In the words of the reviewer who first coined this (very long but accurate) term-
“The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is an all-or-nothing-proposition”
In other words, an MPDG is a female movie character who:
- has many of these attributes : bubbly, cheerful, crazy, bohemian, spontaneous, unconventional, talkative and
- exists purely to “help” the male character out of a tough time/depression/loneliness and
- does not seem to really have a character graph of her own, that is nothing really changes for her /in her life from the start to the end of the movie, apart from maybe the male character falling for her.
A classic example of an MPDG is Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer.
Now, a lot of feminists and reviewers get annoyed by MPDG characters, mostly because they are based on ‘dream’ girls of the scriptwriters (a combination of muse+lover) instead of being based on ‘real’ or ‘ordinary’ women.
Considering Bollywood HARDLY EVER bases ANY characters on normal people(male or female), it’s possibly quite meaningless to think of a Bollywood MPDG, but I did try.
Yup, Kareena in Ekk Mein Aur Ekk Tu. Bubbly, carefree girl, who exists solely to improve Imran’s character and make him enjoy life more, with no progression of the story of her own life. Classic MPDG. There MUST be others; but I cannot come up with more.
The other thing I thought of was the sheer abundance of similar characters in the first half of Hindi movies, who ‘change’ in the second half due to the circumstances of the story.While they cannot be called MPDGs (there’s forward progression in their arc, after all), it does seem odd that so many writers first create such delightful creatures and then quite literally, bring them crashing to the ground-think Geet/Jab we Met, Deepika/Break Ke Baad,Cocktail and Preity/pretty much all her movies just to name a few.
Makes you wonder about the psychology of writers when they write these ‘people’. Are they just subliminally envious of these characters, hence seek to bring them down? Or are they just unconsciously telling us a cautionary tale?