Bangalore biggies flaunt new muscle: bouncers

Vasanth Poovaiah, 45, is brawny, commanding and has superlative reflexes — all of which makes him well-suited for his job, that of a bouncer. In Bangalore, where Poovaiah is based, demand for this particular type of personal security professional has shot through the roof. "These days, everybody wants bouncers," says the former NSG commando whose team has been guarding a once-popular singer.

"Our business of supplying bouncers is booming, and outdoing our security guards business," says Bharath Sairam, managing director of Black Cat Security Service, for which Poovaiah works.

Not just industrialists, real-estate tycoons and the rich, but also politicians employ long-term bouncers, says Sairam. At this time, 23 bouncers from his agency are placed with various people, some for the past two years or more. "Our main business is not the erratic rent-a-bouncer for a visiting celebrity but catering to those who want 24X7 personal security through the year," he says.

T V Mohandas Pai, the former CFO of Infosys who now heads Manipal Foundation, calls it "an indication of the changed times". "There are many goons around who demand money."

Pai says he knows several wealthy people who surround themselves with bouncers and armed personal security as they feel vulnerable. He himself has never used bouncers, he adds. "I am too much of a lightweight."

Bouncers came to the scene during the pub boom in Bangalore in the 1980s and 1990s, when hefty men were hired to keep unruly drunks under check. But the trend has changed and pubs these days use technology such as CCTVs and keep bouncers behind the scenes.

And now they are showing up in the unlikeliest of places, says Sairam. An industrialist involved in a messy litigation has hired bouncers until the legal matter is settled. A minister in Karnataka hired a team of bouncers to add to the posse of policemen already guarding him, as he felt that arrangement was inadequate. A politician got a group of bouncers for his daughter so she could marry the man of her choice despite opposition from his family.

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