After bagging her bachelor's degree in arts from Mumbai's prestigious Ruparel College in 1986, Rajani Pandit almost settled for a quotidian clerical job. However, destiny had other plans for Pandit, India's first woman private detective.
Pandit walked into the dark and shady world of professional spying and detective work without realising that she was getting into it seriously. Almost vicariously, she started helping people in distress and in the process following her heart. “I discover, much later in life, that I was destined to be a detective,” Pandit told THE WEEK, describing how people often used mock her on her career decision "Isko koi orr profession mila nahi kya (Didn't she get any other profession)".
Rajani says it was a tough task establishing her credentials in the business of snooping and eavesdropping, especially since she was a woman. She claims that the world of investigation was a man's domain and that she was the odd one out there.
Her career break as a private eye began in the early nineties when people approached her seeking her help. Rajani said she wanted to assist distressed people in “her own way”. She had plaudits heaped on her all the way.
The spy in Rajani started taking roots during her college days when she got her first unofficial break. She had decided to “unmask” her college mate who was cheating on her parents. “I thought I should reveal her true character to her parents. She did not deserve their trust as she was very extravagant with the money her parents gave her. All grateful, her parents congratulated me and called me a spy,” Rajani remembered.
However, the drift from amateurish detective work into becoming a hard-core seasoned professional detective came by dint of hard work and cultivated diligence. Her early career is replete with solving and cracking theft, cheating cases over money along with private and corporate frauds issues.
Emboldened by a series of breakthroughs, Rajani helped a mother in distress. This woman was distressed by a series of burglaries at home, despite having the keys in her custody. "I wanted to pitch in and help this elderly woman. By spying on her son I could ascertain that he was taking certain items from their house and depositing them at a relative's house. Her son was not exactly stealing those items, but I needed a bit of extra time to understand his motive. But it was the son who was the cause of the mother's troubles,” Pandit said. She claims that often painstaking work and repeated follow-ups are necessary to secure clear leads about a case to crack it.
Today the forty-eight-years-old private detective hardly has any regrets. “I have, over the years, solved over 75,000 cases and have received 52 awards, both nationally and internationally,” she averred. She is the most sought after woman when it comes to cracking intricate and complex cases involving families and hard-nut corporate frauds.
Her own firm Rajani Investigations offers private, corporate and matrimony-related investigation services to scores of clients in Mumbai and beyond. “We do fraud checks and also carry out checks on duplicate items marketed by dubious firms,” she added, claiming that she was often entrusted with tending to cases “involving family issues of senior IPS officers”.
Elaborating on the most memorable case, she said, “Once I was handed a case where a young lady murdered her husband as she was having an affair with another man. Her son grew suspicious of her. But she eventually bumped off her son, too. In an effort to get this woman, I took up the job as a servant with her. I worked with them for six months and it was like a real-life thriller since I operated like a true professional. After days and months of keeping a watch on her activities, the shenanigans of the man she was having an affair with, I could bring her to justice with the help of her relatives and a section of the locals. Unfortunately, the woman, too, got murdered later. I don't want to reveal the names of the people for obvious reasons. But this was a Mumbai case,” she said.