Partygoers visiting Social, a restaurant in South Delhi’s Hauz Khas area, are familiar with the face of a woman in smart security dress and kohl-rimmed eyes.
She is Mehrunissha Shokat Ali, India's first female professional bouncer. Her presence is reassuring for women guests and sends shivers down the spine of those coming with bad intentions to this popular high-end party joint.
Mehrunissha hails from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh and now lives in the capital.
Her work involves breaking up nightclub fighting, disengaging guests in drunkun brawls, frisking women guests and also checking the visitors for drugsor any contraband.
From her looks and behaviour, Maharunissha breaks the stereotype of a bouncer that most have in their mind. She speaks softly thought her mind is always alert to the actions of mischief mongers.
Mehrunissha has three brothers and four sisters; her younger sister is also working as a bouncer in a nightclub in Hauz Khas.
Mehrunissha with her parents
Mehrunissha’s journey to this point is interesting as her family was conservative to the extent that she was not permitted to study after 5th standard. It was only on the insistence of her mother that she was sent to school. There was no chance of being a working woman for her.
However, the family fell on bad days and had to shift to Delhi.
Mehrunissha started working as a professional bouncer in 2014. Though initially she was considered as a security guard, after her protests she was given the ranks of a bouncer. That is how she became the first female bouncer in India.
She said this job and status is the result of her hard work. "I used to get very angry when I was called a security guard," she says. However, after a hard struggle, she became the first female bouncer in the country.
However, his father and brothers were initially quite upset with her job, more so because it involved late-night duties. Hearing the taunts of family and friends, her father had asked her to quit her job. Mehrunissha says she has learned to ignore what others think.
Mehrunissha is today happy that people recognize her as a professional and they advise her parents to be proud of their daughter.
Mehrunissha at work
Besides working in a nightclub, she has also launched a venture of providing security services at private celebrations of celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Preity Zinta, Vidya Balan and others.
She earns Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 a month, which is enough to meet her daily needs.
Like the rest of the hotel and hospitality industry, her work was also affected during the Covid lockdown when she has to face a lot of financial problems.
Mehrunissha who lives with her family in the slums of Khanpur area of South Delhi is the sole bread earner for the family comprising her old parents, two sisters and three children of her elder sister.
Mehrunissha with her awards
Her younger sister Tarannum has recently taken up the job of an accountant in a private firm.
During the epidemic, she received some support. She also received the award money of Rs 10,000 from the Delhi Commission for Women on the International Womens’ day. That too went into supporting her family.
Mahrunissha is today a well-known name in the security industry. Her position has led to the entry of more women into this profession. The restaurant and bar owners feel there is a need for female bouncers as more and more women are coming to restaurants and bars.
Mehrunissha works out daily to maintain her strength and physique.