A growing tribe of professionals cosplay in a different role and enjoy the limelight, Cosplayers Club is a close-knit community of 1000 cosplay enthusiasts in Hyderabad getting grow on fast mode with more players and admirers.

Mahima Srivatsav, an aerospace auditor’s alterego is Temari from anime Naruto; Safura Salva studies data structures and programming but can transform into Deku and Fate from My Hero Academia and The Fate; Swetha Kari left her primary school teacher’s job to descend as Layla from MobolegendsBangBang and Krul Tepes from Owari No Seraph. These girls, all part of the Hyderabad Cosplayers Club, a close-knit community of 1000 cosplay enthusiasts, including 500 from the city, pay homage to their larger than life idols with their act.

The club is gearing up for the eagerly awaited two-day Hyderabad Comic Con to be held on October 12 and 13. Some cosplay enthusiasts also participate in gaming events held across India.

Sai Prakash, one of the co-founders of the club has ‘very little time but so much to do.’ Juggling his day job as a chartered accountant, he is creating two costumes — Gipsy Danger from Pacific Rim and Momonga from Overlord. At his house at Telecom Colony in Alwal, paraphernalia comprising Epo foam, glue and heat gun, sword and last year’s Venom costume are all stacked up.

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“The oohs and aahs we received for the first cosplay was mind-blowing,” he gushes recalling how one photograph helped in forming the club. “I was still a student and played a character from anime Naruto. I uploaded the picture taken at the event with other two participants Sriman Kumar from One Piece and Ronit from Beach. We connected through Facebook and created the group.” While Ronit is the administrator, Sriman has moved on and Zohair Khan is now an active member.

‘Design is time-consuming’
Zohair from Dubai has done 15 cosplays till now and also makes costumes for others. His fascination for the skull extends from the characters he plays — like King Leoric — to his bag that’s designed like a skull. The design is time-consuming. “One learns by researching about these characters and reading how a sword, heard gear and shield can be created,” he says.

The cosplay scene in Hyderabad is growing bigger and better thanks to visual media, animé art, video games, as well as television shows and Hollywood movies with larger than life characters. “The motivation is to be somebody we can escape to, away from our boring, mundane lives,” shares Zohair. He adds, “When we walk as a different character, we garner attention and when you know you are popular, you love the feeling and want it more. People flock to us and it is not a bad thing for us.”

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Sweta, a full time cosplayer, is a regular at different events and competitions and was recently cosplaying at the Phoenix Gaming and Animé Expo in Chennai. She speaks about the cosplayers’ family and how members support each other.

In his free time, Sai hangs out mostly with cosplayers and Zohair has no contact with his school or college friends but is connected with all cosplayers. Hyderabad Cosplayers Club has many professionals like Sai and Zohair, who take time out for cosplay despite their demanding careers. Mahima who is known as MahiMomo in the cosplay community, enjoys replicating the artist’s vision.“We have hectic jobs but there is also a part which wants to have fun and pursue hobbies. It is exciting to understand and emote the character and although balancing this passion and profession is tough, it is enjoyable.”

Costly to cosplay
Cosplayers are constantly challenged to work with tight budgets and different materials. Zohair learnt stitching (“I can stitch a kurta”) through online classes to hone his skills. That’s because cosplay costumes are not only expensive but also time consuming. This explains why Sai and Zohair make costumes to sell or for rent. “People connect with us on social media to rent the costumes. A big costume is rented for ₹2000 or more, depending on its styling. Some even approach us to make their costumes.”

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An armour ranged from ₹ 10,000 to a whopping ₹ 40,000. “Even among friends, we do not give it for free; instead we give each other something in return — it could be taking them out for lunch or help them in their cosplay,” says Sai. Zohair adds, “Cosplayers pride themselves in being artists and their art cannot be taken for granted.”

When cosplayers are at these events, there may be hundreds wanting to take selfies with them but away from these events, their dressing evokes only stares. “People react differently and look at us as if we are aliens. Yet at our cosplay events, they love to take pictures with us. We need to be more open-minded,” says Zohair. #KhabarLuve