Have you ever heard of the art of cosplaying or is it something new to your ears? Well, we spoke with India’s first female cosplayer who won an international award to dive into her journey and understand more about the concept.
For Medha Srivastava, the path to becoming India’s first female cosplayer to win an international award was a fascinating blend of her passions for art, gaming, and storytelling. Hailing from Mumbai, Medha’s journey as a professional Concept and Game Artist started at an early age. “My cousins were gamers so as a child I was exposed to the world of gaming and comics. So it was a natural progression for me as an artist to develop my love for games and animation movies,” Medha recalls. Growing up, she was always captivated by art and video games, which led her to pursue a career in animation, graduating from the esteemed Symbiosis Institute of Design in Pune.
As a game artist working in Bangalore, Medha’s exposure to gaming and comics deepened, fueling her love for games and animation movies. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that she took her first steps into the world of cosplay. Her company arranged resources for her team to create characters from their favorite games to cosplay at Comic Con Bangalore. This event marked a turning point in Medha’s artistic journey as she cosplayed as Akali from her beloved game, League of Legends.
In simple terms, Cosplay, a portmanteau of "costume" and "play," refers to a hobby in which individuals, known as cosplayers, dress up in costumes and accessories to portray characters from various sources, such as anime, manga, video games, movies, TV shows, comics, and more.
Cosplayers often meticulously recreate the appearance and details of their chosen characters’ outfits and appearance, aiming for accuracy and attention to detail. Cosplay goes beyond just wearing costumes; it also involves embodying the character through mannerisms, poses, and interactions. It’s a form of creative expression and performance that allows enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the worlds of their favorite fictional universes.
Intrigued by the world of cosplay and armed with an artist’s eye for attention to detail, Medha started participating in cosplay competitions and began racking up victories. Her talent and dedication brought her multiple awards, including prestigious ones like ESL One Mumbai, Dreamhack Mumbai, and Comic Con India Cosplay Championship.
With strong support from her family and friends, Medha decided to dream bigger. She set her sights on cosplaying one of her favorite characters, Legion Commander from Dota 2, for the grandest Dota 2 event, The International 2019, held in China. It was here that Medha achieved a milestone in her career by becoming the first Indian female to win a cosplay award at an international event of this magnitude. Talking about the same, Medha states, “It was a pleasant surprise when I won the Best Technique award at this event. It definitely feels amazing to receive messages and compliments from gamers in India that they were extremely proud to see that I represented the country in the field of cosplay at the biggest gaming tournament in the world.” She also won the Cosplay Championship Trophy at Comic Con India Cosplay Contest 2023 this year.
Furthermore, Medha’s success and talent attracted recognition from some notable names in the entertainment industry. One of her most memorable moments came when she was acknowledged as the ‘queen of cosplay’ by the legendary Indian musician, A.R. Rahman. A proud Medha reminisces this moment as, “an affectionate pat on my back by my guru who so graciously affirmed my efforts; it was like a validation from an authority saying that I was on the right path.. It’s beyond words to say my innermost feelings.” Additionally, Medha collaborated with several brands, further establishing cosplay as a recognized art form.
Advice for aspiring cosplayers
When asked about the roles she loves to portray, Medha expressed her inclination towards strong female warriors and heroes from gaming and pop culture. Through cosplay, she could channel the energy and vibe of these characters, allowing her to transform into a superhero or an assassin at will. Medha believed that the beauty of cosplay lies in the freedom to be anyone and anything, reflecting the diverse and dynamic world of gaming and fantasy.
To aspiring cosplayers, Medha offered valuable advice. She states, “Don’t think too much about whether your character is popular enough. Obscure characters have loyal fans, too, and chances are you’ll win somebody’s heart at the con because you cosplay from their favorite fandom. I’ve made friends either way.”
She also hands in some meaningful tips on dealing with online negativity. “Do not let the bullies win and discourage you from doing what you love. Believe me when I say that for every negative experience you’ll read about on social media, there will be dozens of encouraging ones. Follow cosplayers who spread positivity and who encourage you to learn from them!”
As she continued to explore new horizons, Medha revealed her upcoming project as cosplaying Jibaro from Love Death Robots, aiming to merge her passion for dance with cosplay.
Medha Srivastava’s journey from a passionate artist to India’s first female cosplayer to win an international award is a testament to the power of combining creativity, dedication, and a love for one’s craft. Her triumphs inspire countless others to pursue their dreams fearlessly and to celebrate the limitless possibilities that lie within the world of cosplay.