Occupational stress affects millions in the workforce on a daily basis and equally so, in the law enforcement services. Letting off steam, therefore, is an important part of what is a strenuous job, involving extensive field work. In fun videos that have now gone viral, a top cop from Chennai is seen doing exactly that.
Somasundaram, Deputy Commissioner of the Armed Reserve Police in the city, has achieved viral fame for his legendary acting skills on the video-sharing app Tik Tok with over 22,000 views. The cop is seen lip-syncing to the famous MS Viswanathan composition ‘Vaa Vennila’ from the 1986 hit Mella Thirandhathu Kadhavu. Reprising the role of lead actor Mohan, the cop is swinging side to side in his chair as he gestures happily in tune with the lyrics. In yet another video, he is performing an emotional scene from the Sasikumar-starrer Poraali. With tears welling up in his eyes, he mouths the dialogue, “Why are you crying? You have no one. I have everyone, yet no one.”
The ‘actor’ cop
Quiz him about it and the officer, who is reluctant at first, says this was completely by accident.
“I came home after work and was eating. My son showed me the app. He said, daddy please try it out. And I did because it is the only time I get to spend with him. But the privacy setting was public by mistake and it has gone viral now. My son apologised to me and deleted everything but I said it is okay. After all, he is my son.”
Opening up about his acting skills, the 57-year-old officer recalls that he was always interested in dramatics, even as a child.
“I used to participate in a lot of stage plays in school. I was a keen sportsman in school and college and received scholarship on sports quota. Acting has been a long-cherished interest of mine,” he says.
However, through his viral fame, the senior policeman wishes to underscore larger points about stress management and perception of the uniformed forces in the country.
He says, “Police officers are also ordinary human beings at the end of the day who experience the same trials and tribulations as every other person. Just because we wear a uniform does not mean we are different from others. We experience a lot of stress in our job but people think that because we have a rough and tough image, we are different from them. That is not the case.”
“I empathize with criminals too. They too are people who need our understanding. I never scold or hit anyone. I do my best to make them understand their mistake and advise them,” says the DCP.
When it comes to managing stress, the officer says that the police department is a close-knit family that tries out different things together.
“As a police department, we all experience stress. We don't even have time our own family. But we try and play games in the evening. Even in a family function, our own relatives may not show up. But for a police officer, every colleague will show up and lend support.
The DCP also points out that the police department has renewed its efforts to organise stress management classes every week on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He says that the department and especially seniors officers in the force have been encouraging junior officers to take parts in sports and yoga classes.
No criticism, only wisdom
Preempting criticism about him being in khakhis while performing the video, the officer says, “I was at home. My son was really excited so I immediately performed it for him. I was just going to take off my shirt. But even if one person is hurt by it, I express my regret. My senior officers also understood that this was a personal video. In fact, many comments on the video encouraged me to perform more.”
“We rarely see our children. By the time we come home, they are asleep and by the time we leave for work, they have left for school. They are also stressed so we should spend time with them,” advises the doting father.
On what he tells the thousands of officers under his command, he says, “I tell my juniors that first and foremost, they have to see others as equal, whether the person is a criminal or a colleague. Whatever caste, religion, gender or sexuality we may belong to, we are all the same. If someone makes a mistake, point it out to them and they will learn. Strictness should apply only to our work.”
Videos like these are but one way to de-stress, he points out.
“A lot of people are talented in many ways but it is hidden. That is why I tell everyone, work hard and be jolly. Be free and de-stress from all your pressure at least in your private life,” he says.
“So many officers write poems! They should all receive recognition,” he laughs, signing off.