This female detective is living your Bobby Jasoos fantasy in Delhi
She’d like to personally thank Ekta Kapoor for helping her industry
Akriti Khatri was known as the news desk in school. She kept tabs on it all – school lunch menu changes, friends’ fake foreign trips that are actually photoshopped and why Rekha broke up with Nikhil at the freshers’ party.
Today, she’s among a handful of female private investigators, or detectives, in the country. The founder of Venus Detective Agency in the capital, she’s got all the comparisons, from Miss Marple, Bobby Jasoos to Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes.
Khatri was originally on the path to getting an MBA when she came across a newspaper advertisement about detective services.
She spent her first month sitting at a desk, given nothing to do as her boss tested her patience. Which you need a lot of, to be a good investigator.
Listing the main qualities on a sleuth’s CV, she adds, “Punctuality, presence of mind – you should know what to say and when to speak, what stories to make up — and most importantly, self-confidence.”
The detective is in the details
Being a detective is pretty close to the movie version playing in your mind – stakeouts, going undercover, a briefcase full of gadgets.
“One is your mobile, which is always on hand,” she says. “Second, a small tracker which you can put on anybody’s vehicle to locate it. So if you miss the subject, you can track the vehicle’s location through that GPS. Then there are spy cameras.”
As a female detective, Khatri has revolutionised the industry, making her agency a structured organisation like any other office you’d walk into.
With a young employee force, she runs five offices across the country that deal with over 100 cases a month from infidelity, child custody, background checks, fraud, corporate surveillance and more.
Moral ambiguity comes in when we talk about pre-matrimonial checks. Where do you draw the line in an industry that isn’t legal?
Khatri insists that they first analyse the case and then decide whether to take it up or not, but if they don’t do it professionally, the client will find another way.
When the Supreme Court upheld privacy as a fundamental right in 2017, it was celebrated across the nation.
But it put quite a damper on Khatri’s operations. Her own parents still haven’t come around to her being a female private detective.
“It’s a risky job and when it comes to women, everybody wants their daughter to have a white-collar job,” she says.
Her enthusiasm and passion for the work keep her going. That, and the reception she gets from prospective detectives. “I received an email from a girl in Class 9 asking what subjects she should choose to become a private detective.”
Khatri’s started an online course to train people, and working with a couple of universities to add it to their curriculum. But she doesn’t see her work being legalised any time soon.
“If I were a politician who has to pass the law, how can I allow you to spy on me?”
She’d like to take a moment to thank Ekta Kapoor for her TV serials.
Khatri laughs, “People would watch someone having an affair, behaving in a certain way and think ‘even my partner is acting suspicious, maybe I should investigate it’. She really gave this industry a boom.”