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How one of India’s top cosplayers broke onto the international scene: the Sameer Tikka Masala story

Sameer Bundela, known in cosplay as Sameer Tikka Masala, spoke with Popverse about "stumbling into" a global profession

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"It was my first cosplay," begins Sameer Tikka Masala, "I got there, and there were like six cosplayers that time. [...] Cosplay is really new in India."

Sameer, real name Sameer Bundela, is talking about a con he attended in 2011, to which he wore a "closet cosplay" of his favorite Watchmen character, Rorshach. Humble though this outfit was, as Sameer told Popverse senior video producer Veronica Valencia, it began a lifelong avenue of creation, one that would take him a dozen years and half the world away from where he started.

"I've always been a huge movie buff," says Sameer of his cosplay origins, "so whenever I used to watch movies, I always used to wonder, like, how all these costumes are made."

After discovering exactly how costumes get made and trying his own hand at it, Sameer describes becoming "obsessed" with the creation of cosplay. For a while, he says, he treated the art as "a hobby," but that hobby didn't take long to turn into something more.

"I started competing a lot, and then I started winning competitions, and companies started approaching me to make this or that for them. And that's how I just kind of stumbled into it professionally."

Well, stumbling into it might be a bit of an understatement - part of what put Sameer on the global cosplay stage was his vitory in 2017's Indian Cosplay Championship, which brought him to C2E2. There, he found himself in awe of the other people in his field.

"I saw the best cosplayers in the world," says Sameer, "And then I realized where I am, which was nowhere compared to the other people [...] like I said, in India, it's still a very new thing and people are still trying to figure out, like, what cosplay is."

But far from scaring him away from his obsession, Sameer's competition only served to bring him deeper in. "Even though my costume was miles behind the other competitors," he recalls, "everyone was so respectful. Everyone was showing so much appreciation. It really made me fall in love with the community."

Recently, Sameer was back in Chicago to judge the 2024 Cosplay Central Crown Championship Global Finals. There, he presided over contestants much like himself - cosplayers who, despite traveling the world, find a home in the cosplay community. And above so much else, it seems, it was this community that kept Sameer's hobby-turned-obsession-turned-profession thriving across continents.

"I've competed a lot," Sameer tells Veronica, "I like taking part in several local and international competitions. And I would say that all the people I have competed with have always been some of my biggest supporters... and biggest motivation."

Interested in cosplaying? Popverse is the site for you - we've got tips and tricks on wigs, a handy guide to buying specialty contacts, and the best online stores for your cosplay needs.

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