CHENNAI: Princess Leia had Darth Bane at gunpoint, but the latter had his light saber at the ready. But no, this isn’t from the movie. It was live, right here in Chennai. With another instalment of Star Wars released in Chennai theatres after a decade, Gowrishankar Siva and Ratikha Venugopal, who started Cosplayers Chennai a few months ago, hit upon the idea of uniting two forces — the release of
The Force Awakens and a dose of cosplaying (combo of costume and role play) as characters from the movie.
SPI Cinemas welcomed the idea of Jedi nights and Sith lords crossing lightsabers during the release of the movie.
“People were happy to see us there. During a movie, people generally take selfies with the poster. In this case, the posters came to life. There were actual characters from the movie,” says Gowrishankar. DJ Zen, who cosplayed Kylo Ren, a villain, is upbeat about the whole concept. “It was amazing. I got the costume done from a designer I know.”
So what exactly goes into cosplaying? Deciding on your character and designing your costume is the first challenge. There aren’t too many designers familiar with superhero costumes in the city. “It isn’t just about giving someone the measurements and saying this is what I want,” says Gowrishankar.
“It’s about the garments and props. Sometimes you can use something you have at home. Like a part of your sister’s dress. Or you can mould things with paper mache and Fevicol,” adds Ratikha. Often, getting a prop ready takes a lot of passion. To get grim reaper’s scythe ready for a Halloween cosplayers’ party, Gowrishankar used a PVC pipe, aluminium, silver foil, cardboard, chart paper and more.
Once you get your garments and props ready, there’s the makeup, and then one of the most important parts. “You really need to get into the character. You don’t even have to be built for it. If you cosplay as Captain America for instance, you don’t need to have Captain America’s frame. You just need to feel it,” points out Ratikha.
“Many people think it’s fancy dress. But only when you know a comic enthusiast’s feel and what a cosplayer goes through to get each costume done do you realise. And we never cosplay the same thing twice,” Gowrishankar says, adding,”It’s an artist’s work... It’s the art side of comics.”
And it’s this side of comic fandom that’s pulling in college students, and even kids from school. “We even have design enthusiasts from colleges like NIFT; this is a unique platform for them,” says Ratikha, who is also a model.
So with Chennai missing out on Comic Con by just a few hundred kilometres (the nearest one is in Bengaluru), does the duo see enough interest to bring a comic con here? “Definitely. It’ll happen in 2016 for sure,” says Gowrishankar with confidence. However, the Chennai Cosplayers need support. “Finding comic fans is one thing. But motivating them to cosplay is another,” he says.
“We are only enthusiasts and we’re not trying to make a business out of this. We need people with a similar drive to take part. And we need sponsors. Only then can it take off,” signs off Gowrishankar, who is a photographer by profession. If you’re interested in Cosplaying, visit their Facebook group ComicConChennai. Also, watch out for a cosplay workshop in January 2016.