Meet Sameer Bundela, India’s Cosplay Champ
The biggest nerd-mania of the city, Comic Con Hyderabad (CCH) is less than a month away and obviously, cosplay is one of the major parts of it. Most seasoned cosplayers are ready with their costumes, a few might be at the tailors’ getting the last few stitches in place and of course, most us are beginning to plan what to ‘go as’.
Most of you may remember Bundela from his ‘Chewbacca’ costume at last year’s ‘Con’ in the city. Sharing his excitement, the 27-year-old freelance photographer and filmmaker, who hails from Bhopal, says, “I’m looking forward to work with the Hyderabad Cosplayers Club. They are one of the most active and fun groups of Cosplayers in India.”
Bundela’s association with cosplay is as old as CCI; it began in 2011 when the first edition of the event was held in Delhi. This rich experience will surely be a handy tool for newbies and everyone else this Sunday. “I'd be talking about my “amazing” journey and give insights based on my experience of competing at the Indian Cosplay Championship (ICC) (and then winning there!) and about representing India at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2e2).”
Speaking about C2e2, Bundela had perhaps the biggest fan moments of his life there when he met the living legend, Stan Lee. “It was definitely the highlight of my trip! Especially because it's rumoured that it could be Lee’s last convention given his age. He's a star! Charismatic and super fun to talk to,” recalls the youngster.
“My meeting with him was brief after standing in a line for an hour. But it was surreal when I finally shook the hands that created many iconic characters over a career that spans decades!”
“I also attended his panel with Frank Miller, which was the most fun panel I've ever attended,” he adds.
Of course, Bundela’s focus was cosplay and an international-level ‘Con’ is bound to be revealing. “Oh! The sheer quality of cosplay and content I witnessed was eye-opening. I competed with the best in the world and received so much love and appreciation there; it was unexpected! It was a geek heaven with major merchandise and comic stores present there,” he shares.
On a positive note, he opines, “The level of cosplay though high, we're not that far in that department with cosplayers like IMJM and nerdfighter, from India gaining worldwide recognition. I have as much fun cosplaying in India as I have outside. There's a sense of amazement in the Indian attendees that is truly remarkable. It feels awesome when someone, even though not aware of my character, gets happy at the sight of my cosplays and appreciate it.”
“After all that's the reason why we cosplay. To spread joy and wonder.”
Of course, Bundela will be talking in detail about his award-winning cosplay of ‘Skywrath Mage’. But, we have a preview. “That was the toughest costume I had worked. I learned new techniques for it and worked on materials I had never used before. The biggest challenge was to make the costume and wings manageable, given its size. I had to figure a mechanism with which I could transport the 12ft wings from here to the US and wear them for prolonged durations.”
“It's the kind of effort that goes unnoticed under all the paint and details. But is crucial for elaborate costumes,” he informs. So, be sure to stay tuned for that at the workshop.
With all this discipline, it’s surprising when Bundela says he has no do’s and don’ts when it comes to cosplaying. “The whole idea is to be able to express yourself. I think people should do that in whatever way they please,” he feels.
“Of course, common decency and sportsmanship is necessary,” he adds on a second thought. Cute!
With all the international exposure the youngster has had it is heartening to see him grounded to Indian roots. And, it’s no surprise that Bundela is keen for cosplayers to shift focus from international characters to Indian ones for cosplay. “We have a huge and rich amount of mythology and stories that have wonderful characters.
And they shouldn't be ignored only because they have their roots in religion. It won't be any different from people cosplaying Spartans or Egyptians.”
“Indian media should put more effort in making people aware and appreciative of our stories. This shift will create an environment of booming creativity, which would motivate creators to put up better shows for us. It's a cycle beneficial to everyone,” says Bundela, who has grown watching Kamui’s cosplay tutorials.
On a parting note, the seasoned cosplayer, who dabs in arts like sculpting, graphic designing and prop making, asks aspiring cosplayers not to miss out on the upcoming workshop. “You'll meet some of the best cosplayers this Sunday. Also, we've got a tonne of things planned, so you'll learn while having fun.
What could go wrong? Maybe you're the next cosplayer that represents India in an international competition. Fun fact - Three of the grand prize winners last year were first-timers.” “So, see you there!” he signs off.