Chetan Giri, director of Sharp Detectives in Pune, speaks to Paula Ray about the mind behind the private eye.
How did you get into this profession?
My father Capt DK Giri started Sharp Detectives in 1978 after he retired from the Gorkha regiment. Now we have 14 branches across the country. I handled my first case when I was 14, and by 16 I was handling a team. I attended a course on investigation in Sydney. Today, I am heading our Pune chapter; we are headquatered in Hyderabad.
Are you armed when on the job?
Most detectives are ex-service men with their own guns and licenses. In security services, it is important. But in investigation, till date we haven’t had to use arms. Every four to six days we change our teams to spruce up our own security. Did you know, in Maharashtra, it’s very difficult to get a gun license. In Hyderabad, 20 of our 40 personnel have guns. The gun licenses are, in fact, in the name of the company and not individuals. But let me tell you, be very careful when hiring a detective. You should always meet at their office and if possible run an investigation on the agency before you hire.
Who are your major clients?
We have about 80 per cent personal cases and 20 per cent corporate. The latter includes pre-employment checks, trademark infringements; while personal cases include investigation on kids going astray, pre-marital checks and of course, cheating spouses.
Are you as equipped as the police to protect people?
No comments (smiles). They have more authority and we do a lot of work with them.
Any VIP for whom you have provided security?
We provide security at Pune Festival, and also for Bollywood stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan when they came to Pune, among others. It all depends on the event management company and their sponsors.
Do you use disguise? Who does it for you?
If somebody is under surveillance, we always go in groups and the guys often change bikes, jackets, helmets etc to keep up the chase. If the case is extra-sensitive, our head-office sends us teams who work on rotation. We do use disguises then and they are done by professional make-up artists.
Who would qualify for this job?
Anyone who has presence of mind, can gel with the crowd and of course, has lots of guts! Many students and even housewives do this work. They are trained after recruitment, and called in as and when required.
Can you ever socialise without spying on your acquaintances?
Well, this profession can easily turn you into ‘doubting Thomas’. If I am driving and I see the same car behind me for 10 minutes, I pull off the road and park for a few minutes. Our head-office often sends spies after us to check our progress. So we have to watch our back constantly. This job can affect your personal relations too. Believe it or not, I have put surveillance on my fiancée too with whom I have been living in for two years now! No, not to check if she was cheating on me… (laughs). You can turn into a psychological case if you are not too careful. It’s of utmost importance to not get involved with your clients. I make it a point to destroy all documents after a case is over. I don’t even greet my ex-clients if I meet them on the street.