Bollywood celebs not so nice to house staff
What kind of people would give hardworking domestic staff a fraction of their promised salary, throw plates at them, abuse them verbally and physically, and after all that, exploit their contacts to get out of any legal hassles? Why, the rich and famous, of course, including the somewhat rich and somewhat famous.
“One Marathi actor threatened me with murder,” says Abhishek Sable, director of the Mumbai-based Happy Maids Service, recalling the time he tried to take up a complaint of abuse with the client who hired the maid. “I’ve stopped taking contracts from Bollywood,” adds Sable. He says that if a client didn’t like a maid’s cooking, “they’d throw the plate at her face”. What’s more “gaali toh unke mooh pe rehta tha (They were always abusing)”.
The treatment meted out to their domestic staff by the showbiz folk was highlighted recently through a blog post, written by Anupam Singhal, owner of the Mumbai-based service provider agency Book My Bai, on the agency website. The blog explained why the agency had put a blanket ban on “Bollywood celebrities” as its clients — the reason was the inhuman treatment suffered by the staff.
Digging deeper to find out if this is a trend, we find that, indeed, it is. Going by what several agency owners say, it’s the women who mistreat their staff more than the men do.
One service provider, wishing to remain unnamed, referred to a female actor: “She’s divorced with two children and comes from a family of actors. Woh maid ko time pe khaana nahi dete the (She didn’t give the maid meals at the right time). They gave her party leftovers. These things happen with stars. Hum zada inn logo ka kaam nahi lete hain, kyuki inke complaints aate rehte hain (We don’t take too many jobs from them, as we keep getting complaints about them).”
I’ve stopped taking contracts from Bollywood. If a client didn’t like a maid’s cooking, they’d throw the plate at her face ABHISHEK SABLE, AGENCY OWNER Many times, the servants don’t even report these incidents to us, as the employers take big names and threaten them MOHIT YADAV, AGENCY OWNER
Sable of Happy Maids Service speaks of the ordeal of a cook provided to a celebrity by his agency: “[The employers] would come home late at night and wake the cook up with a kick, and then they’d demand that food be cooked right then. We tried going to the police, but to no avail. One [female] actor falsely accused a maid of theft. When I went to the police, she called a minister. Case dismissed.”
Another service provider says on the condition of anonymity that a Bollywood actor paid the agencyprovided staff just twothirds of the salary, saying that there wasn’t enough work for them. “When we say we’ll approach the police, they retaliate saying they’re not scared,” says this agency owner.
Singhal says that some of these bad clients are even National Award winners. “If I take a name, the celebrity files a defamation case against [our] company. The maid should stand next to me and say that she’ll go to the police. Or else, I can’t prove anything,” he adds.
Then there’s intimidation. Mohit Yadav, of Mumbaibased Honest Enterprises, says, “Many times, the servants don’t even report these incidents to us, as the employers take big names and threaten them.” He says that if he doesn’t like a client’s attitude when meeting them, he refuses his service.