Interviewee: Mr Solomon Karmegam (SK)
Interviewer: S. Soumya (GT)
GT: Please introduce yourself, sir.
SK: Hi, I am Solomon Karmegam, an alumnus of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and graduated in 2000. Being the founder of Twisters, the official dance club of Anna University, I must say that I have been passionate about dance right from my school days. I have also been passionate about motorbike racing, which motivated me to learn professional racing and represent team India.
GT: What ignited the spark in you to start a new club exclusively for dance?
SK: During my first year, I met Mr Sudhakar, a great singer and a fellow batchmate. Since I was already passionate about dance, I was desperate to start a dance club. It took a lot of time to convince him, but it was worth the efforts, and we performed at our fresher's day. After that performance, two seniors from the ACT campus approached us to dance at their fresher's event, which overwhelmed us with joy. Though I was familiar with stage performances, Sudhakar, who was new to dance, was initially hesitant. Nevertheless, after people started appreciating us, he was confident and wanted to perform more. Our seniors played a huge role in motivating us to start this venture.
GT: How did you come up with the name 'Twisters'?
SK: The name credits would undoubtedly go to JP (Jaiprakash Damodharan). Back in our day, a movie named Twisters was released. The very nature of a twister is to carry away anything that crossed its path. Similarly, we wanted to carry away students at our university and people across Chennai through our dance, which paved the way for Twisters.
GT: Could you please share your memories about the first Twisters crew and your first group performance.
SK: The first Twisters crew consisted of seven members, namely Sudhakar, Ranganathan, Tamilselvan, James, Prasad, Jaiprakash, and myself. We were all Mechanical Engineering students, apart from JP, who pursued his Civil Engineering. Our first performance was at the Vivekananda auditorium during Agni.
GT: The Twisters crew generally practice near the Sports Board. Was that where Twisters began its journey?
SK: Well, you're right, as that's where we used to practice too. We chose that spot as soon as our team started expanding. I would like to thank the former dean, Dr Ramayan sir, and the student in-charge, Dr Udhayakumar sir, who supported us throughout and accommodated us with space to practice.
GT: As technology continues to grow, many platforms for editing songs and videos are currently available. How did Twisters manage the same back then?
SK: We used to buy cassettes from Globus, which were released every 3-6 months. Speaking of song selection and editing, we used to play the original cassette on one tape recorder and record trimmed versions of the song on another. At times, we used to cut the tape wherever required and join it with other tapes to get the right track. It was a great challenge back then as we were not supported by such advancements in technology.
GT: Twisters was among the first few university dance teams to participate in a reality show. Could you share your experiences about the same?
SK: Well, it was wonderful. Though we weren't aware of how auditions at a reality show work, it was a new and cherishable experience. I must thank our juniors, Satish and Shiva from the ACT campus and Vivek from the SAP campus, who made it happen. We were delighted that we could make our university proud.
GT: Though Twisters' first performance will always be close to your heart, how memorable was your performance with the Twisters crew during the 2015 edition of Techofes?
SK: As the Twisters crew has always fondly referred to me as 'Anna,' bridging the age gap between us became easier. However, while performing, there was a vast difference in my dance style compared to the current trends. Nevertheless, we all had fun, and it was a great learning experience. I would like to thank our university and the Student Association for letting us perform at Techofes and for their support throughout.
GT: What is the most memorable incident or compliment you received during your time at Twisters?
SK: All our performances have always been memorable and close to my heart. Speaking of compliments, during one of the Techofes editions, Mr Nagendra Prasad, the famous choreographer was invited as the chief guest. We had danced to the song 'Thaniye Thananthaniye'. He appreciated our performance and said, "You could have choreographed this song." His compliment will always remain close to my heart. Prabhu Deva has also appreciated our performance at an event in Coimbatore, which is another incident that I cherish to date.
GT: How did the experience of starting a club at a young age help you later in life?
SK: I learned a lot during my time at Twisters. Performances and practice sessions taught me skills such as people management, planning, and finances. I must certainly thank those experiences at Twisters, which have helped me excel at work.
GT: As an alumnus and a club founder, what advice would you like to pass on to the juniors?
SK: Since our university offers a platform for students to meet new people from different departments, interests, and talents, I urge students to open up and interact more. Since most of our time was spent with the Twisters crew, we lost the chance to actively mingle with our other batchmates. Academics are important and should never be compromised. However, extracurricular activities are equally important, and students must excel at the same to make our university proud.
GT: Lastly, what are your views on the Club Founders' series by The Guindy Times.
SK: I wholeheartedly support this initiative. The intention behind starting this club was to reach students and help them learn more. I appreciate your efforts and encourage you to continue taking up such initiatives.
The Guindy Times thanks Mr Solomon for spending his valuable time and sharing his experiences.