Until few years ago there was not much said and written about Rajani Pandit. In 2014, Bollywood introduced the first female citizen detective to the Indian screen. The Hindi movie Bobby Jasoos (Bobby Detective) is a comedy-drama about a small city aspirant female detective who ultimately becomes famous.
Even though, the young female detective Bobby in Bobby Jasoos has no similarities to Pandit’s life, it is the first time an Indian movie attempts to depict the inner workings of a private detective. Bobby Jasoos doesn’t relate the tediousness and patience required of private detectives. Only similarity between Bobby and Pandit are few scenes in which Bobby disguises herself in different forms to blend into the crowd.
To promote Bobby Jasoos, in a PR campaign prior to the movie’s release, the moviemakers hinted that the movie is inspired by Pandit. This lead the Indian media to sought-out the real life female detectives. By the time, Bobby Jasoos was a huge success; Indian media had started writing and analyzing Indian female detectives. I believe this is a significant turning point for Indian women.
Prior to Bobby Jasoos, the lead female character in the Indian cinema was always someone’s daughter, girlfriend, love-interest, or wife. Very few Indian movies promoted women in roles that did not fit the mold of ‘damsel in distress’ and ‘I am looking for the love of my life.’ Years ago, due to Kiran Bedi–India’s first & highest woman ranking Officer–Indian men started accepting women police officers. I recall my families’ opposition when I wanted to study architecture. At that time, in 1991 New Delhi, I didn’t know of any women architects; I didn’t have an ideal women role model to whom I could point and say, “See, she is an architect.” The movie Bobby Jasoos has put the female private detective Rajani Pandit in the forefront; I think, probably now, Indian society will be more tolerant of girls who want to more than wives and want to become private detectives.