A few months back, a Chinese shopping mall came in the news for offering “girlfriend” rental services. At the time it seemed kind of funny, especially since some women had reportedly hired these girlfriends to help with their children and their homework.
But, today morning I came across an article about a new website that was launched in India on the 15th of August – Rent A Boy|Friend.
Again, kind of humorous at first glance. We’ve seen such scenarios in movies and they’ve always presented comedic gold. However, once the mirth wore off, I was left intrigued by the actual venture itself. A simple google search led me to the boy|friend rental website and their social media handles. And turns out, their entire business pitch is hinged on being a “cure” to depression. Oh, yes. They did that.
The service was founded by 29-year-old Kaushal Prakash claims he himself “was a victim of depression 3 years ago.”
RABF Service will be available to both Male & Female for the contracted time in city of Mumbai/Pune. The service will be purely platonic in nature. RABF is a platform which will help a nation to fight DEPRESSION, provide EMPLOYMENT (Males), Give a hope to a person who can relieve their life more confidently & happily. – @kaushallprakash (Owner). #rabflaunch #instarabf #followrabf #rabfmumbai #rabfpune #pressconference #rentalboyfriendindia #rabfconnect #rabfmembers #myrabf @rabf24 @thewestinmumbai
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Kaushal, who is an interior decorator-turned-entrepreneur by profession, believes he has found the cause of depression. He says:
“It’s very simple. a depressed person wishes that someone would listen to what they have to say and understand them. it’s no rocket science.”
What have mental health professionals been doing all these years?! It wasn’t rocket science, after all. All I needed was a boy who was a friend instead of spending so much time and money with a therapist!
Do watch him talk about this initiative of his:
The website reiterates that it is a purely platonic service with the bar between “boy” and “friend”, yet, funnily enough, they have a cupid as their logo as well as a truckload of hearts all over. Umm… I’m confused. Maybe they’re trying to confuse the depression as well.
As of now, their services are offered only in Mumbai and Pune, where you get to pick from 6 handsome young hunks ranging in age from 22 to 25 and with enviable six-pack abs.
According to DNA, Rent a Boy|Friend offers you 3 types of “boy|friends”. The man behind the brand explains it as such:
“I have all A-grade models. You can rent a celebrity for ₹3,000, or a model for up to ₹2,000, or an aam aadmi (commoner) for just ₹300-400 per hour.”
RABF also has a toll-free number which also claims to provide you with “psychiatric consultation” while charging you ₹500 for 15-20 minutes of one-on-one interaction with someone at their call centre filled with so-called “professional psychiatrists”.
Kaushal Prakash believes that this makes absolute sense as in a country like India, it would be easier to discuss matters of mental health over the phone. You know, because “log kya kahenge,” if you visit a psychiatrist?
As for how these “boy|friends” are selected, the RABF website invites aspirants to apply with the following brief:
“RABF ( Rent A Boy|Friend) invites you to Register as a boy|friend. It is an opportunity to travel,relax,outdoor fun activities,casual cafe visit, brunch-lunch-dinner,etc. So, (Models, Celebrity, Aam Aadmi) must be friendly, outgoing, exciting, energetic and possess good communication skills. The great thing is you can CHILL and also get PAID for it. So, overall its a fine platform to generate a source of income. If this sounds like something you would be interested in pursuing, then you may Register as a boy|friend.”
However, according to DNA, the gentlemen reportedly equipped with being able to provide “emotional support” need only be a 10th or 12th standard pass out and are selected on the basis of looks and communication skills after an audition. Is it just me, or is this whole thing starting to sound fishy to anyone else yet? No? Just me? Alright, I’ll go back to looking at all of their abs.
Once selected, a background check is done on the men for criminal records.
I’m not sure where to begin with the number of things horribly wrong with this venture. Depression should not be a marketing gimmick. Good looking boy|friends cannot “cure” depression. Especially if they are anything less than mental health professionals with years of study and experience in the matter. People need to realise depression is not a condition to play around with. Getting professional psychiatric help is the best thing you could do.
This content was originally published here.