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Lavanya Bahuguna

Blogger-in-Chief

Bodyguard Veena Gupta On How Naysayers Tested Her Strength And Determination

  • IWB Post
  •  August 10, 2019

 

For the last two decades, Veena Gupta has been risking her life to protect the VIPs in India. Mostly seen in a saree, she’s been breaking perceptions you possibly have regarding a female security officer. IWB spoke to the braveheart, who’s known to handle dangerous situations like a real woman in a real action world.

Veena is a 49-year-old and perhaps, the first woman bodyguard of India. Equipped with the experience of Executive Protection, Risk Management, and Security Solutions, she thinks she was destined to be a Bodyguard. “I was a Hotel Management graduate who had worked in the hospitality industry for more than eight years. To train myself as a Security Agent was truly a leap of faith, a decision made in a jiffy that I took after spotting an advertisement looking for new talents in this field. I left my stable work-life behind and applied for the course,” she remembers.

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Veena says her entire childhood clearly signals towards the kind of job she is currently into. She explains, “As a kid, I was an avid sports lover and would participate in all sorts of games my school used to organize. At home, I was considered the strongest among the colony’s kids and hence was always chosen to play the role of Ravana in RamLeela. Moreover, since my father was in the Indian Army, it pretty much developed my personality as who I am today.”

Her life took a brave U-turn when she appeared for the interview for a security agency. This was in 2000 when only a couple of women showed up at the venue, she says. “I saw all kinds of physically strong bodies around me, majorly men from the fields of firefighting, manpower securities, etc. I was nervous but then I wanted to give it a try,” shares Veena. To everyone’s surprise, she got selected and eventually got innumerable opportunities to bodyguard important personalities like Bollywood celebrities, Politicians, and even Ambassadors from other countries visiting India. “As a youngster, I looked up to Kiran Bedi for the kind of strength she oozes in public. Her strong personality truly inspired me and helped me move forward. However, as time passed by and I polished myself one punch at a time, I consider myself my inspiration. I tell myself to be better than what I was yesterday. I am my competition and that’s what makes me number one in the field. This is not overconfidence, this is the sheer belief in my hard work that’s talking,” she adds.

Today, she bodyguards not more than 50 people in a year as she is busy managing her company called Seam Group Services that provides bodyguard training and other security solutions to its clients. Under this entrepreneurial banner, she is training both men and women to generate a whole new crop of brilliant bodyguards in our country. Along with this, she also organizes regular camps on topics like fire safety, emergency procedures, road safety, women safety, soft skills, etc.

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Wonder what does she do to keep her body fit and mind alert? “I train every day without fail. To protect someone, we need the presence of mind more than anything. If you miss out on a piece of important information, your client’s life is put to risk and you don’t want that to happen. For that, I combine meditation with Karate and Krav Maga – a military self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces,” Veena reveals.

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When asked why more women should join the security service industry, she explained that this profession can not only make them feel stronger physically but also financially. “The beginners can charge anything between Rs. 1000-3000 per night. The fee goes up along with one’s experience.”

“When you are a Bodyguard, you don’t have to look like one. The idea is to appear as a commoner so the criminal doesn’t spot you at all. I usually wear sarees, that has somehow become my identity. No makeup, no jewelry, no high heels, no bright colours. When I’m wearing pant-suits, the same rules follow,” she says.

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After reading Veena’s story of success and watching her stand on the podium of TEDx to deliver her victory speech, one might think that her life has been sailing quite smoothly so far. The answer lies at the beginning of her career, right before she went on to become the trailblazer in this field. She remembers, “This is not a 9-5 job where you get to come back home on time and enjoy a hearty meal with your family. I was required to work at odd hours and even stay out of home for the entire night. Sometimes, I had to travel to new cities with my clients. This style of working didn’t go well with my family and as a result, they started objecting. Adding to the drama were our neighbors who made sure my family forms a narrow perception regarding a married woman that she shouldn’t step out after 7 pm, especially without her husband accompanying her. I did try convincing and giving explanations – but neither it worked not did I give up. Things only changed in my favor when I started gaining fame and media showed interest in telling my story. Today, my husband and the entire family is as supportive as they can be.”

In a world where most of the protagonists are men, it’s important we keep celebrating and talking about women like Veena for taking up such nerve-wracking jobs. To know more about her, click here.

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