Sheilds of protection

Published On: 2015-07-29

Author: unknown

Media Link:

How bodyguards shield Bollywood stars from unwanted fan attention

Source: Mid Day
By: Gaurav Dubey
Date: 19-Jul-2015

Social media and aggressive fans have made security personnel a must-have for celebrities, unlike acting veterans of the past. Here’s how they meet the challenge

Once upon a time, apart from the other perks that came with stardom, celebrities enjoyed the luxury of complete privacy. Stars could choose when to make a public appearance or retreat into their private space, with some of them living in proverbial ivory towers. Back then, Bollywood stars were not easily accessible and thanks to limited media exposure, they were free to lead normal lives, without attracting untoward attention.

Bollywood’s reigning stars are far more exposed to public glare, thanks to an omnipresent media and the social media boom. A star’s every waking moment is on record. And every bit of information — from what the star eats to where s/he travels — is out there for public consumption. Although the effect of this on actors’ popularity charts is debatable, it does leave them vulnerable. While stars today share a personal rapport with their fans, on the flip side, their safety is compromised. And here is where a bodyguard comes in.

While yesteryear stars managed to conduct their lives and careers without being surrounded by beefy men, today’s stars cannot imagine a life without their personal bodyguards.

Limited visibility

“During the ’70s and ’80s, a star’s visibility was limited to films. To get an autograph or catch a glimpse of your favourite star was a task in itself. Today, there are so many mediums through which a fan can come in close contact with a favourite star,” says an industry pundit.

While celebrities struggle with over exposure, it is not an easy ride for their bodyguards. They not only have to keep overzealous fans at bay, in most cases, they also monitor the stars’ moods and double up as their confidants and secretaries. In some cases, where the bodyguard ends up working for the star 24x7, he is treated as family.

Mayur Shettigar, who has been Hrithik Roshan’s bodyguard for long, says he is treated like a younger brother by the actor. But it doesn’t make his job easy. “It is tough to handle a superstar because of fans and stalkers. You not only need strength, but also presence of mind. There is always an optional route or exit plan ready since we can’t rely on one entry and exit point (at public events and appearances).”

Talking about an incident where a fan got too close to the star, catching him off guard, Shettigar says he had to act quickly. “Last year, when Hrithik had visited a multiplex for a special screening of his film, a young fan arrived from nowhere and held Hrithik’s neck from behind. I was taken aback for a second but quickly sprung into action, freed the actor from the man and escorted him safely to the car. In no time, the youth dissapeared from the scene. Such incidents are common,” he says.