If she could choose a superpower, she would choose shapeshifting. Given that cosplaying is shapeshifting without superpowers, Rhea ‘Rheality Lapse’ Chowdhury is probably on the right track. She’s a pro cosplayer who also acts, games, writes and dances.
She has been cosplaying for 7 years. Her love for reading books meets her instinct for cosplay. Bringing a fictional character to life was something she feels comes naturally to her. She has won prestigious competitions like the Cool Japan Festival, NAJ festival, the Indian Gaming Expo (IGX) and comic con despite the fact that she enters them just to participate in the guise of her favourite characters and not just to win the competition.
Through her journey as a cosplayer she has met international cosplayers at events like the world cosplay summit in India. She has traveled the length and breadth of India, participating in competitions all over the country. She enjoys exploring herself as a person while she plays different kinds of characters which ranges from a demure and gentle character to a crazier, more menacing one.
While cosplay came to her naturally, she was a lot shyer when she was younger and did not expect to have the journeys and interactions she has had as a cosplayer. She has cosplayed a wide range of characters across TV shows, movies, animes and the gaming world. The first few that come to mind are Killer Frost from the Flash,Harley Quinn from suicide squad, Juuzou Suzuya from Tokyo Ghoul, Starguardian Soraka from League of Legends, Weiss Schnee from RWBY and even Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen of Game of Thrones. That’s probably what happens if you’ve been cosplaying for 7 years running.
Another thing she loves about cosplay is making crossovers. She made the connection to Max Caulfield, a character from ‘Life is Strange’ with the hunting cap of Holden Caulfield from her favourite book, ‘Catcher in the Rye’. The crossover was a tribute to book and game, and is one of her favourite costumes.
She is part of Calcutta’s only active cosplay group the “Trident Cosplayers” who took matters in their own hands after waiting too long for a cosplay centric event to happen in Calcutta. Together, they hosted a cosplay event by cosplayers for cosplayers, the “Calcutta Cosfest” with Rhea leading the way, using the experiences from all the cosplay events she had attended before. The event was a smash hit with over 150 people attending and enjoying themselves. Rhea feels that it is proof of the fact that people love cosplay and all they needed was a place to express themselves.
The example of the Trident Cosplayers has led to a few more events coming up in Calcutta that make cosplay a little less of a seasonal thing. The group is tightly knit and is like family to Rhea. The only thing the group’s warmth does not extend to, is bullying and toxicity. A champion of issues like this, Rhea also wrote an article for Youth Ki Awaaz (YKA) with the title ‘Cosplay is not Consent’. The article made it not only to the editors picks, but was also credited as one of the best articles published on YKA in 2017.
She has also worked for Nodwin gaming, hosted events for Asus ROG masters and Dew arena which includes the first cosplay event that was broadcasted on Discovery Sports.
As a gamer, she was part of Girlaxy India, the first all female professional League of Legends roster as a support. Eventually, she had to step down to give more attention to her career. In an interview with Asus ROG to encourage more girls to participate in eSports, she used the opportunity to insist that gaming is for everyone, regardless of gender. Now, whenever she games, it is mostly on her mobile with games like Arena of Valour, Mobile Legends and Onmyoji. Even in the absence of her PC, the gaming must go on!