He was led astray by a painful past experience, gave up hope on being happy again, smiling again. With age he turned out to be a loner who doesn’t gel up well with anyone. Soon he crosses paths with a woman full of zest and unique approach to life apparently on a sunny day at a flowery bridge who gradually moulds his perspective towards everything, calms his devils down and makes him sane again. While reading the first few lines the basic plotline of many movies must have crossed your mind. “Jab We Met”, “Jab Harry Met Sejal”, “Ek Villain”, “Elizabethtown”, “Garden Estate”, “Malang” and many more. Whether it be Kalpana from “Ghajini” or Belle from “The Beauty and the Beast” or Alizeh from “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, all of them are in some or the other way present in the narrative as a catalyst to the male protagonist’s character development.
What do we call this stock character type? “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”. The term was first coined by the film critic Nathan Rabin in 2005, “MPDG 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,” he says. The idea of such characters was first introduced in prose and poetry and soon made its way to the motion pictures as well. She has a quirky and playful attitude, is high on life and almost shifts the realist image of life to something magical but only if she could use all of those traits to her own good. The fuss comes into the picture when such character types are hailed as a template for a desirable woman by the masses, when the quest of finding someone alike Belle or Geet transcends into real life for men, when women begin viewing and moulding such characters into a role model, and when women begin to view themselves under the lens of stories written by males to feed male glance.
Existence of such character types is for the purpose of entertainment. The escape from reality they deliver is still comprehensible but over the top standards they set while diminishing the line between reel and real are problematic. Not only does it set a restricted arena for women to develop, but also limits the spheres of happiness and life for men. It does send out a message that men can only revive their will to live and succeed by falling in love with a woman. As a result people end up either intruding privacy or begin expecting enormous transformation, support and dedication from the other person conveniently ignoring the needs, human tendencies and above all the mental health of that significant person. Just treat women like human beings in those scripts and if not then pass the mic. Let women curate their own stories which depict their raw selves!
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