Salman Khan’s portrayal of a bodyguard in his next week’s release of the same name seems like a tribute to the men who shadow Bollywood’s popular faces. An item number featuring Shera, the actor’s bodyguard of 15 years, has made him a star. “Salman bhai is my boss, brother and friend. I wouldn’t think twice if I had to sacrifice my life protecting him,” he says. “Being a bodyguard for someone popular isn’t easy. Loyalty makes all the difference. Building trust is tough and I’m glad I’ve managed to do that with him.”
Shera’s Tiger Security is one of the top agencies in the country and provides security to top actors and production houses from the world of TV and film. Apart from Salman, actor Sanjay Dutt too has got his bodyguard from this agency.
Chandu, who has been with the actor for a couple of years now, says, “Sir (Sanjay Dutt) is particular about his workouts. He ensures that there is some way for him to exercise. Also, wherever he goes, he ensures that none of us, in the process of guarding him against a mob, hurt his fans or the general public. We can’t be rude in anyway when we handle his security at public functions.”
Actor Ronit Roy’s Ace Security has been around for over 10 years now. He provides bodyguards for a bunch of Indian and Hollywood actors, production houses and sportspersons. Among the agency’s top clients are the Bachchans and Aamir Khan. “As a matter of policy, I wouldn’t like to get into details of any of my clients. But each one has a very clear brief. The number of security persons varies according to the occasion. They can do with four men if they’re shooting inside a hotel suite, but they’d definitely several security personnel if they were shooting for half a day at Bhindi Bazaar,” says Ronit, who started his agency by guarding Aamir Khan years ago.
When asked whether it’s easy for the agencies to find reliable men for the job, the Udaan (2010) actor says, “Thirty apply, seven make it. I don’t know about other agencies, but we have global standards. Our training programme is demanding. Half the applicants opt out right after day one. Eventually, we’re down to seven or sometimes even three or four. All this is a must because there are no timings for security guards. They have to be on their toes all the time.”
‘Akshay helps those who help themselves.’ Shri Tele, Akshay Kumar’s bodyguard, points out that the action star always seeks his mother’s blessings before leaving for a new assignment. “Whenever he starts a new project, sir visits mataji for sure. Every evening he checks where his wife and son are,” says Shri who even chauffeurs Akshay on his bike whenever required. “Akshay sir helps everyone, who he feels are hard working. He never lends a rupee to someone who’s able-bodied, but not using his energy in the right direction. And of course, his workouts are a must.”
‘Apart from being physically fit, they also have to be mentally sound’According to actor Ronit Roy, who has been in the business of providing security personnel to top celebrities, star security is the second largest industry in the country today after hospitality.
And being part of this industry takes a lot. “It’s not like a regular job where men apply and the next day pick up their appointment letters. Sometimes we get applications and sometimes we look for people ourselves. Apart from being physically fit, they also have to be mentally sound and prepared. They’re trained in handling guns and bullets, although they can’t carry them around in public places openly. The body structure, height and build are important criteria,” says Ronit, adding, “They’re not meant to scare, but the sight of them should distance people from the star. We also ensure that our men don’t treat the public badly while shadowing a client. It’s a part of our ethics training.”