Cosplay and The City of Joy

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Dressing up as popular fictional characters has been one of the unique traditions of human history. Back in 16th century, the recorded history of the Italians dressing up in a costume with a mask during the Masquerade ball events during the carnival of Venice are considered as the earliest recorded notion of dressing up extravagantly that has since transformed to the modern day cosplay. The tradition of dressing up for Halloween itself is also quite relative to this world of fashion.

The modern cosplay—however— is about something more than just formal social gatherings or tradition. In colloquial, one usually associates dressing up with portraying popular characters from pop-fictions like Marvel and DC universe or the Anime universe. And while the Masquerade balls were more of an elite event, modern cosplay is popular among common people. Further, while the galas of yore had extravagant dresses with lavish exquisite designs and expensive craftsmanship, the modern-day cosplaying is more about improvising than spending. In fact, many cosplayers would argue that they have much more joy in making something themselves than buying it from the market.

And The City

In this article, we are trying to share you a peek into the world of cosplay and cosplayers based around a certain metropolitan city in Eastern India. Calcutta (or Kolkata) is one of the few remaining cities of a bygone medieval era that lives in the limelight of prominence even today, with large; prominent swathes of the city like The Armenian Church, the Esplanade, Victoria Memorial, The Indian Museum remain unchanged for the past two hundred years. Calcutta is a multicultural metropolitan where people from around the world come to work and live, a city that dreams about her bygone days while embracing the new. No Indian city has so elegantly slipped into the modern from the old while retaining her old world charms. One can learn how to openly welcome everything from Calcutta. It is no wonder then, that when the city faced with cosplay, it boomed. And it boomed…..

And it Boomed….

Only that it didn’t. Cosplayers are passionate and would never tell you how difficult it is for them to prepare a new costume. And in a country like India, which is inclined on the West rather than the East it might be extremely difficult to find help regarding an expansive and involving hobby like cosplay. Cosplay in India is not unpopular or stereotyped in any manner, but is seldom actively encouraged.  There are fewer people doing it throughout the country and it can appear to be a daunting task for a beginner. Facebook hosts a group named “Indian Cosplay Community” holding 4800+ members. I had the opportunity to be a part of the community for the past few weeks and the first impression I got was of how active and helpful the community was. There were people from all across the country, Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore and so on.  I had talked with them, and they said that the main stumbling block was the acute lack of events. There is hardly any exposure of cosplay in this city and perhaps to an extent, the entire country, sparing the previously mentioned cities. Even then, the number of such events is glaringly low.

Is It All bad?

As people from the Indian Cosplay Community group communicated to me, materials like foam and cloth is very cheap in this country and that is one benefit they get. But in absence of ready to make kits, one must do everything in the D-I-Y fashion. And costly items like wigs are completely absent from the marketplaces. One has to always import them from outside. But real world exposure remains woefully limited. There are steep challenges any up and coming cosplayer must face to get recognition. The problems and challenges we have presented to you , the reader of this article is barely just a tip of the iceberg, and every other cosplayer has a different story to tell. But all is not filled with the fog of uncertainty for those who are involved in it, are very connected and share a deep sense of camaraderie. And occasionally, the nerds meet.

…….The Nerds Meet

They do; literally. Sponsored by Flouresense Media, The Immortal Arts, Nvidia, Xrig and many others, the Nerdmeet is a one of a kind meet in Calcutta where geeks, gamers, anime lovers, cosplayers from all over the city (and the entire state!) come together in a gigantic two-day meet to discuss the detail all of their passions together.  I was personally present at The Nerdmeet 3.0, which was held in Ballygunge, Calcutta; and saw more than 200 different faces during my stay there. And not to mention it had some of the best cosplays I had seen from the city. They all engaged in cheery discussions, the cosplay show was near the finale, and one must mention the photoshoot that happened with all of the cosplayers together in one big picture.

Nerdmeet 3.0 Via Nerdmeet Facebook

We later contacted one of the cosplayers, Romi Mondal, who had cosplayed as Kaneki Ken in the Nerdmeet 3.0 event and asked if she should be interested for a feature article about cosplayers on Nihonden. She was very willing about the matter. We agreed upon a time and I got to ask her a few questions.

Romi Mondal as Mikasa Ackerman

Romi Mondal as Mikasa Ackerman

What made you attracted to cosplaying?
Attracted! Yes, I wanted to pursue art, always. When I first saw there was a Cosplay competition to be arranged in Kolkata, I was like “bingo”. The characters which I love, I saw people dressing up and role-playing like them. So, you can say, it’s both attraction towards arts and love for the characters.

When you’re doing a new cosplay, how do you plan it out? Would you be able to give some advice to our readers? Which part should they take extra care about? And where should they start?

Cosplay starts when you start thinking about planning. So designing the whole thing followed by choice of matetials, estimating the time
Then thereby getting the materials. Making patterns, Working on each stuffs, Main costume, Accessories, Props; Then painting And fittings (and) Makeup (and) Wigs. Trying the whole costume And shoots or conventions

What is the first character you cosplayed, and where?
There is a game named Pokémon Go, that became famous in July 2016. So, an event named ‘Kolkata Pokewalk’ was arranged. There, I cosplayed Misty from Pokémon.
About the experience, it was my first public cosplay. People appreciated me. I got new friends and I met my cosplay inspiration ‘Rheality Lapse’. And of course, some people mocked me as well, haha.


Romi Mondal as Sasuke Uchiha

Romi Mondal as Sasuke Uchiha


That’s a shame. On this note, what impact did that experience had on you?
It didn’t matter actually. I fell in love with cosplay. And I kept going on.

What was your family’s response to you cosplaying?
They were scared of my career at first. I tried to convince them. Then at last, after one year, they kind of accepted cosplay, and now even help if I need it.

What is your most memorable experience as a cosplayer?
Praises from an international cosplayer Megan Marie, for my Lara Croft cosplay.

Wow! Who are your role models?
Kamui cosplay, Yaya Han, Yuegene Fay, MaidofMight.


Romi Mondal as InuYasha

Romi Mondal as InuYasha

 You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


Ayan Sarkar

Ayan is an exploratory author and fun person in real life (or so we like to think). He can write reviews and cover ups pretty fast, only if he gets the time to do so.