Manic Pixie Dream Girls:
Geet Dhillon in “Jab We Met”
Geet Dhillon. Educated, independent, confident and loves herself. Geet. Sweeps into Aditya Kashyap’s life despite his resistance. Geet. Teaches Aditya to abandon sorrow and live life to the fullest. Geet. Makes us laugh and cry with her. Geet. Can we even imagine ‘Jab We Met’ (Ali, 2007) without Geet?
Yet, this strong, fiery character has very little substance to her. She exists only when Aditya (and the story) needs her, beyond that she is immaterial. Geet, in essence, is an example of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Trope.
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Trope, a term coined by Nathan Rubin, refers to a character type that “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” (Rabin, 2007) Her primary function is “to lift a gloomy male protagonist out of the doldrums, not to pursue her own happiness” (Bowman, Gillette, Hyden, Murray, Pierce, & Rabin, 2008). She is bubbly yet lacks an inner life and barely ever has a plausible motivation. In essence, she exists only to play out a wish fulfilment fantasy (Bowman, Gillette, Hyden, Murray, Pierce, & Rabin, 2008). Hollywood is filled with Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Take for instance Claire from ‘Elizabethtown’ (Crowe, 2005), the inspiration for the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She appears when Drew has hit rock bottom, helps him through his troubles without really disturbing his life, disappears for a while to allow him to organise his life and then when he is ready for a relationship, he finds her waiting for him at the market. Apart from an initial scene when her occupation as an airhostess introduces her to Drew, little reference is made to her work, her personal life or her family, i.e., classic MPDG.
Among the other movies that use Manic Pixie Dream Girls (aka MPDGs) are ‘(500) Days of Summer’ (Webb, 2009), ‘Sweet November’ (O'Connor, 2001) and ‘Garden State’ (Braff, 2004) – each movie has a girl with no real life of her own but is used to simply further the storyline of the male hero (Sarkeesian(feministfrequency), 2011).
The character of Geet Dhillon is one of Bollywood’s many Manic Pixie Dream Girls. When we first meet her in the movie, she has just completed her education (lived in a hostel in Mumbai to do this) and is on her way back to Bhatinda, her hometown. Her confidence and independence is apparent from the fact that despite pretty and young, she has not only decided to travel alone by a night train, but even has the pluck to start up conversations with strange men (or is she being plain careless? We will explore this later). Then, in a typical MPDG manner, she involves herself in his life, despite his resistance and tries to fix his situation. From that moment on begins a series of adventures as Aditya helps Geet get to her lover in Manali, while Geet through her characteristic childishness gives him a new lease of life. Inspired, Aditya launches a new and successful calling card, named after none other than Geet, whom he misses, but her absence doesn’t affect him much. However, while Aditya hits the high notes in his life, Geet is crumbling to pieces. Her lover rejected her, and despite finding a job and some security, she must play the role of the Damsel in Distress and fall apart, now that there is no man in her life. Aditya then comes to her rescue. His undying love for her drives him to fix her life for her, and is rewarded when she begins to fall for him (out of gratitude, we presume). Despite the competition that Anshuman presents when he re-enters Geet’s life, Aditya is unperturbed. He is right in being so, since as the male protagonist, he is guaranteed a happy ending. This security allows him to be generous enough to help Anshuman and Geet get married, which (not surprisingly) helps him win over Geet eventually.
A few key points are to be noted here....