Back in the '90s when photography was not something everybody considered a 'cool' profession, to 2020 when his name is among the pioneers in the business, Bollywood ace photographer Dabboo Ratnani has come a long way and so has his annual calendar.
This year, Dabboo completed 25 years in the business and his calendar marked its 20th edition.
Dabboo's started his annual Bollywood calendar at the beginning of the millennium in 2000 and since then it has been a yearly creative satisfaction for him. He never made it commercial and yet it causes ripples every time he unveils it at the beginning of the year.
This year too, his annual calendar featured stunning shots of 24 popular celebrities akin to those of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Kriti Sanon, Tiger Shroff, Jacqueline Fernandes, Sunny Leone and Kartik Aaryan among others.
But the ones that created most noise were of Kiara Advani and Bhumi Pednekar, who gave their debut shot by bearing it all. While Kiara's picture had the Kabir Singh actress holding a tranquil gaze as she stood in front of a giant leaf, Bhumi was much bold to pose in a bathtub.
Naturally, their pictures met some strong reactions. Bewildered netizens showered the actress with all sorts of compliments. But at the same time, there were some offensive remarks and trolling too, something that Dabboo had anticipated and was prepared for.
"Since the beginning we expected people to react this way to Bhumi and Kiara's shots. People are not used to seeing them this way. Nobody could imagine Bhumi or Kiara posing like that. The whole idea was to let people know that they can look this way too and pull it off brilliantly," said Dabboo in an interview to News18.
"Their pictures are very sensuous and sexy but they are not in your face. There is a lot left for imagination and I guess that made people talk about it more. I personally think they are great shots and they are looking stunning. The pictures are not vulgar and very aesthetically done" he said.
The pictures which could have easily appeared tawdry, look nothing but elegant and graceful. When asked how Dabboo managed to get the right aesthetics, the lensman had a very simple answer -- experience and trust.
"The vision and the angle matters a lot. Also, how you instruct an actor about the pose and the lightening used makes a huge difference. I have been doing this for so many years and have a chemistry with the actors. They trust me completely and it shows in the pictures," he added.
Dabboo elaborated that before shooting for the calendar, he, his wife and their team sit down together to brainstorm and jot down four to five concepts for each of the actors they want to feature in the calendar. They send out those ideas to the actors and work upon one concept that excites their 'muse' the most.
It is one of the reasons why each one of his pictures has a different premise, instead of a singular theme for the entire calendar. For instance, Ananya Panday in this year's calendar has a rather sporty look, compared to Abhishek Bachchan's shot, which has a very retro vibe to it. Likewise, in Saif Ali Khan's portrait, he holds a boyish charm in his red sneakers and for John Abraham, Dabboo recreated actor's famous "Dostana" pose.
View this post on Instagram
My 19th calender shot for my dear friend @dabbooratnani It's become like a yearly family ritual! Congratulations Dabboo and @manishadratnani on this year's calender. Dabs, from shooting my 1st ever magazine cover to today. We've come a long way brother. Big love and full power to you. #dabbooratnanicalendar
View this post on Instagram
#lit Love it! Thank you John for always being a sport and creating incredible calendar shots together! Love Ya! ❤️ Repost @thejohnabraham Thank you Dabboo for this one !!! @dabbooratnani @manishadratnani . . Fitness @thevinodchanna Hair by @prerna2510 Makeup #Venky #dabbooratnanicalendar #dabbooratnani #manishadratnani #dabbooratnaniphotography Artist #johnabraham Photography @dabbooratnani Assisted by @manishadratnani Team Details Makeup Venky Hair @Prerna2510 Team JA @minnakshidas @thevinodchanna Team DR @myrahratnani @kiararatnani @shivaanratnani Production & Location @dabbooratnanistudio #25yearsofdabbooratnani #dabbooratnanicalendar2020
View this post on Instagram
❤️ Saif Ali Khan ❤️ #dabbooratnanicalendar @manishadratnani @dabbooratnani #2020 #dabbooratnani #manishadratnani #dabbooratnaniphotography Artist #saifalikhan Photography @dabbooratnani Assisted by @manishadratnani Team Details Makeup @nileshkothavale Hair @sagar_rahurkar Styling @arjun_khanna Outfit & Vespa @arjunkhannaofficial Shot On @fujifilmxindia Team DR @myrahratnani @kiararatnani @shivaanratnani Team Saif @urshitakochar @exceedentertainment Production @dabbooratnanistudio #25yearsofdabbooratnani #dabbooratnanicalendar2020
"My main focus in the calendar has always been the actor and photography. I don't choose a theme because it's like a restriction where I have to fit everything according to it. I try to make the actors do something they are not doing day in and out and are excited about."
"Because the calendar is not a commercial thing, there's nobody to tell us what and how to do a certain thing, so we can use our creative liberty, experiment and project things in a way we have never seen before. And when I get such positive response from the actors and audience, the hard work pays off," he concluded.
Follow @News18Movies for more