The Corpse Bride walked up to the exhibitionist and asked enthusiastically: "Is that Tamil Pulp Fiction? Wow! I'm so buying that!" And Pyramid Head waited in line to get his chance on the Iron Throne. Yes! Bangalore ComicCon is back. Cosplay, or costume play, is a performance art where participants don the garb -- costumes, accessories, makeup — and roles of their favourite movie, comic, anime, or gaming entities.
The idea of cosplay is fairly recent in India and cannot be compared to the global scene. But over the past two years,cosplay has begun to get a strong foothold in India. "Every year we see that the people participating in cosplay are getting more sophisticated and increasingly professional," says Jatin Varma, the organiser of ComicCon India.
There is a small but growing community of cosplay artists in India. "What's happening on the cosplay global scale nowadays is accessible to interested people. This makes it even easier for us to come up with ideas and look at different characters," says a 25-year-old cosplay artist from Delhi.
"Cosplay takes a completely different level of passion and enthusiasm. Especially, when you have limited resources," says Jatin. For cosplay enthusiasts, this isn't just about wearing a particular costume or painting your face a certain way, it's about becoming that character. "For that duration you get to be your favourite character, and derive strength from them," says NiharikaPatil, a 22-year-old professional cosplay artist.
At global cosplay conventions, not only do serious hobbyists frolic as their fave characters, but several professionals are hired as well. "This year we have a cosplay contest in Bangalore, and the response has been overwhelming. Apart from that we have serious gamers as well, who have been hired by companies as cosplay artists. I won't call the trend very big, but it definitely is growing in India," says Jatin.
In the US, at the cinema release of the final part of the ‘Harry Potter’ movie series, many fans camedressed as young witches and wizards.In India,the craze hasn’t extended to movie halls, but is restricted to communities and groups. The idea is slowly catching on but has not gained acceptance from a larger audience. "When I started cosplaying, it was something very weird and different. People even kept away from me, but it's nice to see the steady growth in the community. And now people are hiring me as a cosplay performer too,” says Niharika.
However, when compared to their counterparts in the US, the cosplaycommunity in India has a long way to go. The number of designers who provide the right props, costumes, and accessories are limited. Most people end up making their own outfits and do their own makeup. They take their elaborate designs to local tailors for getting them stitched. "It took me about an hour to make all my props, about 45 minutes for the body paint, and around half-an-hour to get ready," says Reetam, a business analyst from Mumbai, who was dressed up as the Pyramid Head.
How far cosplay will pick up in India is a question yet to be answered. "Like I said earlier, I won't say there’s a drastic increase but the umbels have been steadily increasing from 2011. And with big gaming companies, looking for individuals who can do comic and movie characters for a fee, the trend is steadily growing," says Jatin. Also there are ingrained prejudices to be tackled before cosplaying can penetrate deeper. "When you say you are cosplaying, many compare you with those funny bunnies and animals at kiddie parties, but cosplay is different. And while the community is small, we hope to bring the Indian cosplay scene to a global level," concludes Niharika.