on August 15, one socially conscious 29-year-old man was working towards giving India freedom from mental illness by offering up boyfriends on rent. Kushal Prakash, said 29-year-old man, launched Rent a Boyfriend — or, as the service emphasises, Rent a Boy | friend, because the line symbolises the app’s platonic policy — in Mumbai and Pune on Independence Day this year. Though the name appears to suggest a more sexual nature, Prakash has insisted that the reality is far from it, while speaking to a leading daily.
There would be no sexual contact or even meetings (dates?) in private places, he was quoted as saying. The app’s purpose is not so much romantic as it is to help people overcome their feelings of isolation. ‘Get freedom from sadness, depression, loneliness this Independence Day,’ Rent a Boyfriend’s Instagram boasts. According to Prakash, who has stated that he himself has suffered from depression, renting a companion can take you from mentally ill to cured in no time. Actual medical science be damned.
There are three categories of boyfriends to rent from, all selected by the RABF team via online auditions: the celebrity boyfriends, who can be rented for ₹3,000 per hour; the models boyfriends who can be rented for ₹2,000; and the average, everyday men who can be rented for up to ₹400 per hour. If you’re wondering who these celebrities are, please note that Suraj Dahiya, who bagged the Rubaru Audi Mr India title this year, is one of them.
The good news is that Prakash, an interior designer, assures that the men who resister as boyfriends will undergo a background check for any past criminal record. The, erm, not-so-good news is that the minimum educational qualification required to land a gig is passing your 10th grade exams. But please don’t judge a potential (platonic) boyfriend by his degree. After all, RABF’s founder is just trying to help victims of depression overcome their struggles.
To that end, not only does Rent a Boyfriend offers boyfriends (boy|friends?) to spend time with, they also have a toll-free number that people can call to speak to qualified mental health professionals. While speaking to DNA, Prakash said that his call centre is filled with trained psychiatrists who can counsel people for 15-20 minutes for ₹500. The RABF founder and co-owner feels that telephonic counselling is a better way for people to resolve issues in India since there was stigma attached to seeking professional mental healthcare. To back up that claim, the app’s team includes a doctor and a psychiatrist, among others.
But if you’re trying to download the app to either rent a boyfriend of register as one, we’d advise you to hold your horses. Sure, considering that boyfriends earn 70 per cent of the fee paid to the app, it’s a great way to make some money on the side (if you can overlook the blatant trivialisation of mental health issues). But it isn’t as easy as that. At the time of publishing, Rent A Boyfriend’s website was down and their app took multiple tries to register a new user. Even after that, one has not been able to login thus far.
But hey, good news ladies! You’ll now be able to find a man. In India. Where the last recorded sex ratio stood at 940 females to 1000 males. Because that was the problem you were dealing with all along.
The model, Akash Choudhary was the guest for Rent a Boyfriend’s launch held on 15 August, was unaware of the fact that he is perceived as a rentable boyfriend. Soon, the story went viral on social media, and he was flooded with over ‘1000 messages’, from his friends and social circuit interrogating him about the fiasco.