Comic Con India arrives in Chennai: A dream come true for pro cosplayer Suriya Banu

This weekend marks the debut of Comic Con India in Chennai at the Chennai Trade Centre. Joining the excitement, pro cosplayer Suriya Banu AKA Hikari Jane, reflects on her journey.

ByRoshne Balasubramanian

Published Feb 16, 2024 | 10:21 AMUpdatedFeb 16, 2024 | 10:23 AM

Suriya Banu Aka Hikari Jane has been embodying various characters over the years. (Supplied)

In 2014, Suriya Banu Aka Hikari Jane, from Chennai, had an eye-opening experience at her first Comic Con India convention in Bengaluru. “Honestly, I had no idea such a gathering for pop culture enthusiasts existed until then. While it seemed a bit amateurish at the time, meeting so many like-minded individuals was incredibly refreshing and exciting,” recalls Banu, a passionate gamer and anime enthusiast.

Following her visit to the Bengaluru Comic Con in 2014, Banu and a group from Chennai toyed with the idea of petitioning organisers to bring the event to their city.

“Chennai had a wealth of talent but lacked a platform like Comic Con to showcase it. Even smaller cities like Ahmedabad had their own Comic Con events, so we felt strongly about having one in Chennai to amplify our potential,” shares Banu, who has been cosplaying professionally for a decade.

While no formal petitions were drafted, it seems the organisers, albeit a decade later, have finally heard the pleas of Chennai’s cosplay, comic, and pop culture enthusiasts. Chennai Comic Con 2024, presented by Maruti Suzuki Arena and powered by Crunchyroll, is set to make its debut on 17 and 18 February.

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Chennai Comic Con – A dream come true

A glance at Suriya's Instagram page reveals the extent of her mastery over challenging cosplays. Comic Con.

A glance at Banu’s Instagram page reveals the extent of her mastery over challenging cosplays. (Supplied)

For Banu, this is a dream come true. “My journey into cosplay began in 2014, but my love for comics started in my childhood with subscriptions to Tinkle magazine. As a teen, I delved into Japanese comics (mangas) and anime, gradually immersing myself in the world of gaming. While I didn’t read much of DC or Marvel, I watched their shows on Cartoon Network. Anime became a big part of my life when Cartoon Network started airing it,” she explains.

Never did Banu anticipate that she would eventually become a seasoned cosplayer, embodying various characters over the years. “As an avid gamer, my cosplay inspirations stem from the characters in the games I play,” she notes. Initially met with scepticism and mockery, Banu persevered through the misconceptions surrounding cosplay. “People often dismissed it as a mere ‘fancy dress competition,’ failing to grasp its depth. However, amid the ridicule, I found a community of like-minded individuals seeking guidance and support,” she reminisces.

Over time, the cosplay scene in Chennai has evolved significantly, with increased awareness, improvements in techniques, availability of materials, and the emergence of spaces catering specifically to cosplayers’ needs. 

“Today, online platforms are offering a wide range of cosplay accessories and materials,” she explains. 

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Community support

Initially lacking familiarity with suitable materials and tools, Banu highlights the now-open nature of the cosplay scene, with enthusiasts freely exchanging information and offering support through platforms like WhatsApp groups. 

“This connectivity has prompted a willingness among cosplayers to tackle more ambitious projects, with a growing emphasis on achieving realism in their portrayals,” she shares. 

Initially lacking familiarity with suitable materials and tools, Suriya highlights the now-open nature of the cosplay scene. (Supplied)

Initially lacking familiarity with suitable materials and tools, Banu highlights the now-open nature of the cosplay scene. (Supplied)

A glance at Banu’s Instagram page reveals the extent of her mastery over challenging cosplays. As Banu AKA Hikari, transforms into various pop culture characters, she becomes virtually unrecognisable. She chuckles, noting, “I hear that often! At conventions, people struggle to identify me without my cosplay attire. Even if we’ve interacted before, once I’m out of costume, I’m incognito. To me, that’s validation and a badge of honour for the effort I put in! It’s a sign that I’ve successfully brought these characters to life,” she says with pride.

Getting into character

Behind the vibrant wigs, intricate costumes, eclectic props, and striking makeup lies a creative process that often goes unnoticed. 

“When I first started, I was clueless and had no one to turn to for guidance. This was the case for many of us who ventured into cosplay over a decade ago,” Banu explains.

In those early days, cosplayers had to make do with whatever resources they could find. “I would sometimes resort to modifying off-the-shelf costumes to better fit the character,” she reveals.

However, as the community expanded, Banu found a like-minded collaborator in a fashion designer, Roshini Sheker, who shared her enthusiasm for cosplay. “She had a knack for experimenting with the elaborate attire worn by characters,” Banu shares. “For the past five years, we’ve been collaborating and pushing boundaries together. Over time, I’ve also started experimenting with VFX make-up. It’s been quite a transformation from the days of simply making do with whatever we had,” she adds.

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Driven by social media 

While cosplay has seen growth and now boasts a niche market catering to enthusiasts’ needs, there’s still ample room for development. 

The bow for Kindred from 'League of Legends holds a special place in Suriya's heart, being the first prop she ever made. (Supplied)

The bow for Kindred from ‘League of Legends holds a special place in Suriya’s heart, being the first prop she ever made. (Supplied)

However, one notable evolution lies in its impact on content creation, driven by social media. “More content creators are diving into cosplay, and vice versa,” Banu observes. “It’s a unique form of creative expression, and we’re seeing increased interest from game publishers and developers who want cosplayers to bring their characters to life in real-time,” she points out.

In Chennai’s scorching heat, we inquire if Banu has any advice for cosplayers concerned about melting away in their elaborate costumes. However, instead of focusing solely on technical solutions, Banu shifts the spotlight to emotional well-being. 

“Don’t let stress consume you. It may seem easier said than done, but it’s crucial,” she emphasises. “Often, people fret as the event draws near, worrying about every detail. Regardless of how meticulously crafted your cosplay is, if you don’t exude confidence and embody the character, it might fall flat. Remember to enjoy the experience, connect with fellow enthusiasts, and have fun,” she advises, drawing from her own experiences and those of her friends who have felt the same anxiety leading up to conventions.

Gender bender

In today’s discourse on gender, gender-bent versions of characters have become commonplace in cosplays. However, Banu emphasises that cosplay has always been inclusive of gender and everything else. “There are no boundaries. It’s a form of self-expression. You’re free to portray characters however you see fit,” she explains. “Cosplays and Comic Con have been spaces where people are accepted regardless of their gender presentation. It’s always been a positive force,” she adds.

During the pandemic, the cosplay community experienced a slowdown due to the inability to meet in person. Virtual conventions and cosplay competitions became prevalent as a substitute. Reflecting on this shift, she notes, “While virtual spaces served their purpose, physical events still offer a unique experience.”

“Cosplay is a visual art form, and it’s difficult to fully appreciate the effort and craftsmanship behind a costume through a screen. Physical events are important spaces for showcasing talent and fostering connections beyond geographical boundaries,” she elaborates.

Cosplayers assemble

In Chennai, there are resources and communities dedicated to anime and cosplay enthusiasts.

“The Chennai Anime Club and a WhatsApp group for cosplayers, where members discuss their projects and share information about where to find cosplay items in the city are quite popular. Additionally, online platforms like Otaku Nadu and Pop Circuit provide memes and information about anime and pop culture events in Chennai and Tamil Nadu,” she shares.


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A post shared by COSDEMON (@cosdemon_akai)

Since the announcement of Comic Con India’s debut in Chennai, these groups have been buzzing with activity. Banu observes an increase in cosplay progress updates and discussions about collaborations. “There’s a lot of excitement and interest in working together,” she shares.

When asked about her cosplay plans for this year, Banu opts to keep it under wraps.

“Chennai has never experienced such a significant pop culture event before,” she remarks. “I’m excited to see the city’s pop culture enthusiasts come prepared with their best looks. But what truly matters is being part of an event that marks a first for Chennai,” she adds enthusiastically.

Also Read: Bengaluru Comic Con 2023: Where pop culture dreams come to life

Lighting round

Favourite cosplay: Kagura from Inuyasha.

Best cosplay advice: Always ask for help whenever you need it and avoid replicating everything you see on the internet. Much of what you find online is tailored for different contexts, so seek out Indian alternatives and consult with local cosplayers for guidance on materials and techniques.


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A post shared by Hikari (@hikari.jane)

Favourite cosplay prop you’ve made or used: The bow for Kindred from League of Legends holds a special place in my heart, being the first prop I ever made.

Dream cosplay: Ivarr from Assassin’s Creed. While seemingly simple, this cosplay presents numerous intricate elements that will require dedicated time and effort. I aim to bring it to life by the end of the year. 

Chennai Comic Con 2024 be held at Chennai Trade Centre, Nandambakkam, on 17 and 18 February from 11 am to 8 pm. Passes are available on and Book My Show. Single-day passes are priced at ₹899.