During the initial stages of her career, she was told that she would not be able to work in the field she was willing to make her careers in. The reason being - she is a woman and the field could be dangerous for her!
But she was focused and assertive about her career choice and decided to not pay attention to anything that would be a hindrance to her success. Today, Akriti Khatri, one of the very few successful detectives that India has.
She began her detective agency at the age of 24. Headquartered in Noida, Venus Detective Agency has now its presence in various major cities pan India, including Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Kolkata with more than 80 employees working with full-time. Till date, she has maintained her success rate of more than 85% cases.
We had an interesting conversation with the ace woman detective, Akriti Khatri about her extraordinary journey so far. Check out the excerpts.
Tell us something about your life before Venus Detective Agency.
Honestly, I never thought that I will be a detective. It happened by chance. As a hobby since my school days, I used to do some detective work which continued even in college. But I never thought that I would pursue this as a profession. I was a tomboy in college and all my male friends would urge me to find the details about the girls they liked. My hobby was to gather as much information I could about students and teachers. I once read a newspaper ad about an agency offering detective services and that intrigued me. I called them the very next day to inquire about a job opportunity with the firm and the lady on the other side fixed an interview for me. The interview went well, and I accepted the job.
For that moment my actual journey started since it was a constant struggle to prove my worth as a women detective. There were people who always looked down upon me including my seniors and colleagues. Finally, at the age of 24, I quit my job and started my own detective agency with major branches in all metro cities.
Why did you choose to become a detective?
I used to work as a marketing manager and after year and a half, I quit my job because of my pushy and ill-tempered boss. Besides, I realized I loved spying more than marketing and went back to the agency where I first worked as a detective. After that, I started my own detective agency.
How has been the journey so far for you as a Detective and an Entrepreneur?
The journey has been full of ups and downs. It is not easy to succeed in any profession, especially when you are in a detective field everything is only good when you solve a case. I began my career after following an ad in a newspaper that said an agency was looking for a detective. That very moment I knew what I wanted to do, and also knew that it would not be well accepted by my family or the society. But this is where I stood up for myself and I am very proud of it now. I have come a long way since then and whenever I look back, I feel happy for the choices that I made and the decisions that I took.
What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
In our field specifically, women are not encouraged. Like they say, the whole society is united or either you have to work as an associate under someone and if you want to stand alone by yourself, then every someone creates obstacles in your way. You will be demented; you will be told that you do not know how to work even when you attain better results than men. Your family and near and dear ones question your choice. There is resistance from all directions. The only way out is to trust yourself, even if you do not get encouragement from anyone and most importantly, stay focused of what you want to achieve.
What is the biggest struggle of a woman detective today in India?
The biggest challenge is to convince the family. If they do not support, at least there must be no opposition, however this is never a case. Moreover, our profession requires working late nights for investigation, which is usually not accepted by family.
There are a lot of TV shows and films wherein a detective played the role of a protagonist. Whatever we see on the screen, how is all that different from the real life?
In India, one of the most popular shows is CID. People come to me and give all kinds of references on how to solve a case based on the show. I always tell them that a lot of things that are shown are not practically possible. For example, the characters flash their ID cards and pick up any person that they want to interrogate. In real life, that is not how it works.
In my initial days, some people would call me and say, “We want something like emotional-atyachaar’, based on another popular TV show at that time. I had to explain them how real life was way different than the reel life. The service they were looking for is called ‘honey trapping’ – a tedious, time-consuming and costly process that does not yield results overnight. It was difficult to make people understand that detectives are human professionals and not God – we can’t do anything and everything.
There are very few women detectives in the country. Do things change in your field for being a woman?
Though there are a lot of women inclined towards the profession, they don’t get much support from family, friends, and in-laws. It is a risky profession, so everybody is pulling you down and people want you to take up a white-collar job. Nobody promotes you.
However, I think being a woman always helps you in obtaining information from other people. People tend to trust women and are ready to give out information. It always gives you an edge above the others to investigate things in a better way.
There are many detective agencies that hire females to investigate cases. The concept of female detectives is not new; it existed in the olden times too! We have all heard of ‘Vishkanyas’ being hired to spy on kings and other prominent members in the king’s court. However, there are some drawbacks, too. For example, if you go to places like a factory where labour is involved, it is extremely difficult to mix with them and get information. They will treat you as an outsider and make your job difficult. In such situations, male detectives work better.
The profession of a detective is not legalized in India. Do you think it should be legalized? If yes, why? If no, why?
Since the profession is not legalized, we don’t have the privilege of showing our ID cards if we are caught unlike journalists and other professionals. Once caught, there is a lot of bargaining involved. I remember a case that we were working on 8 to 9 years ago. I had given an assignment to my team and they had to go and do some investigation at a remote place that lies at the border of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The man we were investigating was tipped off by someone and our guys were caught, and the man claimed that our guys were sharpshooters who had come to kill him. He had some influence on the police, which made it difficult for us to prove our case. We face such difficulties every day and have to take lot of precautions to avoid any such scene.
You are known as the Nancy Drew of Delhi. Tell us a bit about some of the challenging and interesting cases that you have handled so far. Also, what are the lessons that you have learned as a detective?
Well, there are so many cases including political, child abuse, corporate, etc. that were challenging, and we successfully solved them. There was a case where I was investigating a woman who was offering escort services to high-profile parties. We were hired by her husband to see what the wife was up to. As the case progressed, we got to know details that we never thought could come across in such cases. The dark side of the society was revealed to us through this case.
There was another case, wherein we were investigating a college student who was involved with the pubs and clubs. We couldn’t approach her directly and hence, there was a middleman involved. Such cases often have a huge network of human trafficking set in the picture.
One of the challenging cases for us was wherein we were investigating a missing person from the famous Kedarnath and finally found her somewhere in Punjab. The woman had lost her memory and was staying with a family. Missing person cases are normally very tedious to handle.
A female entrepreneur or young woman who wants to be an entrepreneur usually finds difficult to start off with no or minimal access to the start-up capital. What is your opinion on same?
Very true! Women face difficulties to start their own start-up compared to a young man from the same community. As compared the men, the women double the effort in managing personal and professional life. Women have to take some initiative to arrange money, like I arranged the start-up capital for my company by mortgaging my jewellery. Since the ancient times, women tend to have this habit of keeping money hidden in the flour box. It is their mini bank. One of the best examples is of Infosys founder Mr. Narayan Murthy wherein his wife gave him the seed capital of 10 K at the initial level of his start-up. So, if women can support others, then they can do for themselves too!
These days, every other person wants to start a business. What is that one quality, if a person has, then only he/she should think of starting a business?
To believe in yourself and your business idea.
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career as an entrepreneur?
My message to them would be to love what you are doing and love what you want to do. Be firm on your decision. Don’t do something under pressure, be confident and then only you will be able to perform better. I just believe and want people to believe that self-confidence is the key to success.
Is (gender) equality an important issue for you? If yes, why? If no, why?
No, gender equality is not an important issue for me. Women are leading ahead and are already doing better than men.
What main change would you like to see for young girls in the next generation?
I would like to see them being more responsible socially.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be?
Focus on goal and take it seriously. Don’t part away from your goals and be self-motivated. Believe in yourself and your talent.
What woman inspires you and why?
All the leading women of India, who are self-made inspire me. One of the biggest examples is founder of Beacon, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.
What qualities make a great leader?
Some of the qualities include being proactive, self-confidence, commitment and passion.
International Women’s Day celebrates the scientific, political, economic and social achievements of women. In your experience as a successful woman, what is its significance?
International Women’s Day gives every woman a feel of pride. It also gives a feel of unity that we are united and collective. If we are all together as one power, we can fight with winds and mountain and be ahead in every profession. Afterall, we women are no lesser than men!
Apeksha News Network congratulates ace woman detective, Akriti Khatri for her successful journey so far and wishes her good luck for all her future endeavours!