Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Bollywood and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl


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Bollywood is known for being overly dramatic, colorful, and romantic. Indian Cinema is so full of love that I sometimes feel Bollywood is a synonym for the Romance genre. Although this is in the process of changing with recent releases like Andhadhun, Badhaai Ho and the like, we still have carved a niche (albeit a cheesy one) for ourselves.

It is hard to make romantic movies without cliches and hence, we are known for quite a few ourselves. A popular one being – The Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Evolution of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Many yesteryear movies had a male lead, a hero. He was basically a superhero (without the powers), who was kind, helpful, handsome, righteous, and could fight an army of goons whilst being injured himself. He was the package, the prince charming who’d rescue the damsel in distress and be her one-way ticket to wealth and happiness.

As times changed and Feminism became a thing, a new cliche was born and it was the female version of the hero. Mind you, the hero was still the centre, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl could exist only if there was a hero. But now instead of him being her saviour, she was his.

A Manic Pixie Dream Girl is chirpy, lively, friendly, and always very ‘not like other girls’. She is dorky and flawed herself, but she makes up for this by being adorable if not insanely beautiful. Her flaws just add on to her attractiveness. She teaches our male protagonist to loosen up and live life, to realise his dreams and stand up for himself. She is in every way what he desires, the perfect candidate that would be his better half.

Well-known Bollywood Manic Pixie Dream Girls

Here is the list the most popular Manic Pixie Dream Girls from Bollywood and Hollywood:

1. Geet, from Jab We Met

She basically existed to help Aditya pull himself together. She is talkative and full of life.

2. Kalpana in Ghajini

Kalpana helps Sanjay Singhania, the serious brooding business tycoon, lighten up

3. Heer Kaul in Rockstar

One of my all time favorite movies – Rockstar has Heer Kaul the insanely attractive upper class girl, who gives Jordan the heartbreak he sought to be able to create good music.

4. Tara in Tamasha

A recent one was Tara in Tamasha, who helps Ved stand up for himself and realize his dreams.

5. Charlize Theron in A Million Ways to Die in the West

Theron’s character Anna, is “so unlike the other girls” and is, for some reason, the only other character in this world that shares MacFarlane’s 2014 perspective on an 1800s world.

6. Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club

Helena Bonham Carter plays the female lead of Marla Singer, the death-obsessed addict who quirks around, attending group therapy for things she’s not suffering from and becoming the driving force behind Tyler Durden’s self-imposed destruction.

Many other movies although may not have such an obvious Manic Pixie Dream Girl, have a milder version in some form or the other. And as per audience reviews people apparently like watching someone too beautiful to be true help our hero, instead of the hero helping her. Here is a definitive list of Manic Pixie Dream Girls from Hollywood.

The Boys are not left behind

This does not mean that now the hero is someone who needs to be helped, Bollywood has its share of Manic Pixie Dream Boys as well. The aren’t as common or even necessarily tough and manly, like yesteryear heroes but they serve a similar purpose – to solve the girl’s problems and teach her about life.

1. Aman in Kal Ho Na Ho

Aman (Shah Rukh Khan) in Kal Ho Na Ho was Naina and her family’s “angel” who rescues them from their personal issues

2. Bunny in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani taught Naina to live life and celebrate Holi

3. Raj in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Raj (Shah Rukh Khan), Surinder’s alter ego, is Tani’s Manic Pixie Dream Boy who saves her from the ennui of her monotonous married life.

My Thoughts

While I myself like a lot of these movies, I feel like they have no trace of truth. This is fine, it is fiction, it is supposed to be entertaining not realistic. But as a member of the audience I’d like to see a movie with no super attractive savior. In life we are all mostly boring people and we need to rescue ourselves, not wait for someone to make our life better.

I’d like to see a movie where two uninteresting, average-looking people go through life together and tackle life as normal unextraordinary people. Making such a movie entertaining is a feat only a really talented movie-maker would be able to manage. But considering how far Bollywood has come, I don’t see this as unattainable.

If you have more examples of Manic Pixie Dream Girls or Boys then please share those in the comments below 👇

About the author

Misbah Fathima

Pseudo-intellectual, NOT a traveler, adventurer, or a bibliophile. I like working with numbers and writing in spare time.

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