Sameer Bundela has been a part of the Indian cosplay world right from the start and has seen the fandom grow in leaps and bounds. From creating basic costumes from scratch to putting up magnificent displays that won him the 'Indian Cosplaying Championship 2017', the animation graduate has come a long way.
Gearing up for the Bengaluru Comic Con that will be held on December 2 and 3, 'At8', as he is known in the alternate universe, talks to Rajitha Menon about costumes and life in them.
How did you first become interested in cosplay?
I was always inclined towards the arts and crafts like painting and sculpting. So in cosplay, I got a chance to incorporate all these things. Also as a kid, I always wanted that 'Shakthiman' costume that everyone had and was interested in all the elaborate costumes I saw in the movies. All that drew me to this.
First ever costume...
It was a 'Rorschach' for the very first Comic Con that happened in India. It was a very basic costume because we didn't have any idea about what materials to use and how to go about it. I made a mask by painting a 'duppatta' and created a bloodstained brooch using nail polish. I was very proud of it at that time.
Favourite costume so far?
Definitely 'Chewbacca'. I cosplayed him in 2015 when the seventh part of 'Star Wars' was going to be released. I was really excited as I hadn't tried something like that before. It was a challenge but I loved making it.
What was the response to the costume like?
The response was the best part. I hadn't seen the movie while working on my costume. Few days before the event, I saw the movie in which Han Solo dies. I had planned to find a Han Solo cosplayer and go together for the event but after I saw this, I went alone and walked about with a sad face. People would just come and hug me!
The costume that won you the 'Indian Cosplaying Championship 2017'...
That was my costume of 'Skywrath Mage'; the most complicated one I had worked on till then. The wings were the most difficult part in that. Making them was not an issue; I had to wear them, move around and stand for atleast 5-6 hours. I had to remake the wings atleast three times before I got the perfect combination. There were many offers for it but I didn't want to
sell it because I loved it so much.
How was the experience at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, where you represented India?
It was overwhelming; the level of cosplay I saw, the amount of detailing in costumes, was amazing. A reason for that is that the quality of the materials you get there is very good. There are also easily available unlike how it is in India. But the standards are improving here.
To a novice, how would you explain the event?
Everyone does cosplay for different reasons. I do it because I like the technical challenges involved (I am trying out prosthetics for the first time for my new costume). For others, it is a chance to connect with people with similar interests.
You see a person wearing a costume of a 'Star Wars' character and you know they are fans like you. My friend circle has primarily been of cosplayers ever since I started doing this. From different walks of life but connected by a love for fiction and the arts.
Requirements to be a cosplay artiste?
There is no requirement. Anyone can be a cosplayer. If you have ever cut paper and stuck it together, you have what it takes for a basic cosplay costume. But for competitions, you have to put in a lot of effort.