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February 28, 2013 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-02-28

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4B - Thursday, February 28, 2013 1( ) The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
BOLLYWOOD COLUMN
You don't
always need a
- happy ending

NATASHA JANARDEN/DAILY NATASHA IANARDEN/DAILY
The LOL ROFL Comedy Club performs every other Thursday at BTB Cantina. 'U' students write and perform their own stand-up material.

few weeks ago, while
competing in Berkeley,
Calif. with the Uni-
versity's premiere Bollywood
dance team, Michigan Manzil, I
found myself
talkingto
a reporter
aboutthe
importance
of happy end-
ings in Bolly-
wood stories.I
I explained PROMA
that filmi KHOSLA
dance rou--
tines, like
Bollywood movies, tend to end
happily.
"Inthe end, movies are all
about entertainment," I told him.
"We want the story to end on a
good note so that the audience
leaves feeling good about it."
Over the next few days, I
couldn't help reflecting on my
comments, and not just because
I felt like my answers made me
sound like a prize idiot. I believe
what I said and stand by it, so
why did the interview answer
feel so thin?
Last semester, Professor Jim
Burnstein told my "Fiction Into
Film" class that "movies are
ultimately simple emotional
journeys." A simple emotional
journey ends with positive reso-
lution and emotional fulfillment,
and Bollywood strives to uphold
those ideals.
In "Om Shanti Om," Om
(Shahrukh Khan) delivers one
of the most memorable speeches
in Bollywood, saying that in life,
like in film, everything is alright
in the end; if it's not all right,
then it's not the end (this English
translation is almost exactly the
earth-shattering quote that ties
together "The Best Exotic Mari-
gold Hotel." Hmph). He's kind
enough to spell out one of Bolly-
wood's primary narrative values
and to inadvertently explain the
reasoning for it; we want movies
to end happily because we want
life to follow suit.
As touching as Om's speech is
- touching enough that I vowed
long ago to repeat those words
if I ever win an award - it made
me take a second look at classic
Bollywood happy endings to see
if everything really is alright.
Even looking at "Om Shanti Om,"
the illusion started to fall apart
before my very eyes: Om and his
friends get revenge on the bad
guy, but his family still suffered
for 30 years without him, and
Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone)
still met aviolent end.
How about "Kuch Kuch Hota
Hai," every '90s kid's favorite
feel-good movie? Rahul (Shah-
rukh Khan) and Anjali (Kajol)
finally find each other, but Tina
(Rani Mukherji) is still dead and
Aman (Salman Khan), bless his
heart, is forever alone. In "Hum
Aapke Hain Kaun"? the story
wraps up with a big, boisterous
wedding, though the family has
barely digested the death of its
oldest daughter.
And what aboutthe films that
don't even try to end happily?
What about "Kal Ho NaasHo"?
The film is one of Karan Johar's
strongest screenplays and Nikhil

Advani's few directorial pur-
suits, yet it stands out among
both repertoires and viewer
experiences because it was just
so damnsad.
The film's irreplaceable posi-
tion in Bollywood history comes
entirely from this plot. Would
we remember it as well if Naina
(Preity Zinta) and Aman (Shah-
rukh Khan) rode off into the
sunset together? If Rohit (Saif Ali
Khan) didn'tcrepeatedly get his
heart broken, and no one cried
to sad music on the banks of
the Hudson River? An unhappy
ending can beas effective and
memorable asa conventional one
- and sometimes more so.
And they don't just stop at sad.
One of the most impactful mov-
ies I have ever seen is unques-
tionablyDeepa Mehta's "Earth:
1947," and that's because the last
few minutes were so horrifying "
that I've never quite shaken how
they made me feel. A main char-
acter suffers a terrible betrayal,
but even though I was deeply
disturbed by it, I came away with
a whole new understanding of
the movie's themes and how they *
relate to the real world.
Endinga movie uncomfort-
ably forces the audience to
think and cope. As much as we
hope for a happily ever after, we
should expect setbacks in real
life. After all, a movie doesn't
represent a lifetime - events
transpire before and after the
script's timeline to upset equilib-
rium. Things may be all right in
the end, but that isn't necessarily
the end of the movie.
You don't need
a feel-good
finish to enjoy
Bollywood
When those credits roll, the
characters are free of the cir-
cumstances that constrained
them, whether comedic,
catastrophic or anything in
between. We, as viewers, are
left to ponder the implications,
to weep over character deaths
or shake the shock of a traumat-
ic scene. We leave the theater
with the joy of watching Kajol
and Shahrukh get it together
once again because they belong
together.
Whatever the outcome, mov-
ies shape an audience member's
worldview. I appreciate the
impressions left upon me by
films both triumphant and trag-
ic. I love my classic Bollywood
endings where the hero and
heroine sing and dance their
way to happiness just as much
as I value the films that broke
my heart. I remind myself that,
when things aren't going so well
in real life, if it's not all right,
it's not the end.
Picture abhi baki hai, mere
dost. The movie's not over yet.
Khosla is practicing her
award speech. To help her,
e-mail pkhosla@umich.edu

Along with stand-up, the club also practices a recognizable sketch-comedy routine.
Laughig out loud with
ni I

Students release
through original
stand-up acts
By JACKSON HOWARD
Daily Arts Writer
There's a chance you've seen
one of the members of the LOL
ROFL Comedy Club passing
through the Diag, taking notes
in your biology lecture or sit-
ting next to you in a dining hall.
They're college students who go
to parties, date and stress about
finals. But once a week, this
seemingly random and normal
group of students - a frat boy, an
ice skater, an engineer and more
- meets in Mason Hall to tell
jokes. Really, really funny jokes.
Erich Laux, the club's co-
president, is a short, unassum-
ing Engineering junior who's the
last person you'd expect to be
part of a comedy club - let alone
run it. That being said, as soon as
we enter into a messy, unlocked
classroom on the second floor
of Mason and the club meeting
begins, Laux transforms from an
anonymous hooded anybody to
a one-man laugh track with the
most genuine and full-bodied
roar you've ever heard.
As different group members
stand up to run through jokes
for a performance at the BTB
Cantina the next night, Laux lis-
tens attentively and is as quick
to critique a joke's punchline as
he is to laugh at it. The rest of
the group members are just as
engaged and seem totally com-
fortable at both criticizing and
supporting one another.
"It's all in love," LSA fresh-
man Mackenzie Wolfgram tells
me. "If you just say, 'Wow that

was wonderful,' and then they
go up on stage and tell a bad joke,
and no one laughs, that's much
worse than getting told here."
Two members have gone, and
now it's Wolfgram's turn. As
soon as I see him smile suavely
at the group, I know it's going to
be good. He's a freshman, yet he
carries himself with the poise of
a veteran, and within minutes
the entire group is in an uproar.
Confident and personable, Wolf-
gram runs through a hilarious,
fluid set of relatable and quick-
witted stories, and by the end
I'm wiping tears out of my eyes.
Talking to Wolfgram after
the meeting, I'm surprised to
learn that he hadn't done stand-
up before joining the club. He
noticed the club's booth at Festi-
fall and thought to give it a try.
It's worked out better than he
expected.
"It's really weird. It was kind
of near exams last time, and
you're more focused on making
your jokes funny for the show
coming up than studying for
your exam," he says, smiling.
"Because for the exam it's just
you, but for the jokes, you're in
front of everyone and want to
impress them."
I learn almost immediately
in the meeting that there's a
major gap between being a
funny person and a great come-
dian. It takes a special blend
of personality, wit and, more
than anything, confidence. Just
watching the group members
perform in front of one another
makes my stomach churn anx-
iously.
"I was so nervous (when I
joined). I was probably as ner-
vous the first time standing up
to tell jokes with the group than
at the first show," Wolfgram

recalls.
Over the course of the meet-
ing, there's only one member
who doesn't perform. Instead,
Michael Dawes sits happily in
the corner, shouting out one-
liners with ease and nodding in
approval of the others' work. I
assumed he was one of the more
experienced members and am
shocked when he tells me that
he is an LSA senior performing
at his first show the next day.
"I originally got into (com-
edy) because my senior year
in high school my buddy said,
'Dawes, you're a really quirky
dude, which is great, but when
you first meet people you can-
not release the quirkiness on
them immediately; you gotta
internalize it and hide it until
you establish your friends in
college,'" Dawes says, laughing.
"So I was like, 'Alright, if I do
stand-up, I can live my life and
then that's how I can release
(the quirkiness).'"
Occupied with fraternity
life his first three years, Dawes
decided it was time for him to try
somethingelse.
"The shows are definitely the
scariest things and the most fun
things," Wolfgram explains, and
though I nodded in agreement,
I only truly understood what he
meant after what I saw happen at
the Cantina the next night.
I get to Cantina five minutes
before the show is scheduled
to start, and the place is almost
empty. A harsh white light illu-
minates a small wooden stage,
and a handful of chairs line the
front. The group members pace
around the bar, and I start to get
worried that no one will show.
Slowly, though, Cantina starts to
fill up, and at 9:12 p.m. the show
begins.

I pass by Dawes as I take a seat.
"I'm mad nervous," he tells me,
gripping a beer. "I'm drinking.
I'm just gonna go up there and
vomit."
By the time the host introduc-
es the first comedian, the room is
packed. I recognize some of the
members, but I'm taken aback
by how much they've improved
since the night before. Punch-
lines and stories that fell flat only
24 hours before have been trans-
formed into polished sets that are
making the whole crowd laugh,
and it's clear that these guys take
their comedy just as seriously as
their schoolwork, if not more.
Wolfgram's name is called, and
he struts to the stage with confi-
dence. He starts off a little fast
but settles into a groove within
the first minute. The crowd is
clapping, people are turning to
their friends with "how good is
this kid?" looks, and I sigh with
relief.
Then comes Dawes. I rub my
fingers nervously as I watch him
get on stage. He stands totally
rigid, holding the mic with a
tense grip, and I see the anxiety
in his face. Come on, Michael. You
got it. I think I'm just as scared as
he is.
He opens his mouth, and the
first joke he tells - a self-depre-
cating story about his fraternity
life - hits the crowd like a tidal
wave. People hoot, Dawes starts
to loosen up, and I even notice a
middle-age couple eating dinner
laughing.
He ends onabang, and I exhale
again. He survived his first show.
His friends cheer with pride from
a booth behind me, and the audi-
ence is clapping wildly. Dawes
steps to leave the stage, and,
glancing out at the crowd for a
brief moment, he lets out a smile.

WHERE WE LEAD,
YOU WILL FOLLOW.

@MICHDAI LYARTS

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