Clicked: Behind the scenes of Dabboo Ratnani Calendar 2014

Bollywood celebrity photographer Dabboo Ratnani offers Arti Dani a sneak peek into his coveted annual calendar starring the who’s who of the industry

EVERY YEAR DABBOO Ratnani’s calendar features the best of Bollywood stars. This year he completes 15 years in the industry hence the calendar is grander. Twelve actors featured in this edition, shot during November and December. “It gives me great creative satisfaction. It helps me grow as a photographer. The whole year I shoot for someone else. This calendar gives me a creative outlet,” Dabboo told City Times when we caught up with him. The celebrity photographer shares a few candid shots from the making of the calendar and explains the impetus behind the shots that made the cut. Please note the pictures featured here are from behind-the-scenes and not the actual calendar shots.

Akshay Kumar
Location: Dabboo’s studio in Mumbai

I met him in his vanity van a few months ago when he was about to shave. Generally most of the males use razor but Akshay uses the traditional form of the razor called ‘Ustara’. He thinks it gives a much cleaner shave look. That became the idea of my shoot. He did not shave for the shot but he posed with so much conviction that it looks like he is about to shave. The idea was to give it a manly look with foam and blade. We made it quirkier by putting a lollipop in his mouth to give the idea that there is a child alive in him.”

Alia Bhatt
Location: Dabboo’s studio in Mumbai

The whole concept was that she got a cat in front of her. We tried to make it look like she is not wearing anything but just covering herself with that beautiful black cat. Alia was all game when I told her the concept.”

Alia loves cats. I saw her DP with her cat and that’s where the idea came from. She loved the concept. Alia is very emotional about this picture because she used to have a cat that looked exactly like this one (this is Zayed’s wife Malaika’s mum’s cat). Most important in a shoot like this is the comfort of posing with a particular animal. Alia was actually more worried about the cat than about herself. This is a picture that we’ll remember for a long time. We always add some moments to make our calendar pictures timeless.

Shah Rukh Khan
Location: SRK’s house, Mumbai

We wanted to make it a really sexy shot. I have often shot girls in bed but never a male actor. It’s a zone where I needed to tread carefully but it turned out well. When I discussed the concept with SRK in October he was game. He pulled it off really well, I wonder if anyone else could have done the same. With SRK I have done macho and outdoor stuff but this sensual shot with a red satin sheet was something we experimented with for the first time. SRK used to joke on the set saying it was his very old fantasy to shoot like this and Dabboo made them come true!”

Location: Dabboo’s studio in Mumbai

I got a tattoo artist to put a tattoo on her back. It is a lowback shot where she is gazing at the mirror looking very sensual. Her reflection in the mirror is my main image.”

Deepika Padukone
Location: Famous Studios, Mumbai

It’s a cinematic shot. We made a set like a film studio where we placed a dressing mirror in the middle of all the shooting equipments. It is like a fashion shot in the middle of a film shoot.”

We wanted to make the picture look very cinematic. It’s in the midst of a film studio, where I used film equipment as my backdrop and inspiration. This concept was worked out by Anaita Shroff, Deepika and me. I’ve used retro lights as I wanted to give it a vintage feel. Deepika is dressed in a gown looking stunning, but the stuff around is grungy. Setting up the place took time, while the actual shoot didn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Priyanka Chopra
Location: Filmistan Studio, Mumbai

It’s a fashion shot where she is using Polaroid camera and checking her own pictures. She gives all these crazy expressions while shooting pictures of herself. It’s like a picture in a picture concept. It’s more like a fashion shot but with lots of expression.”

Ranbir Kapoor
Ranbir’s is a high fashion image, which is basically a contrast — he’s in a tuxedo and in a whole grunge situation — dragging a huge fire extinguisher. This picture is a behind-the-scenes moment, which shows the fun we had during the shoot. I had shot with him before the release of his first film — we hit it off well and became friends. Ranbir is one of the best actors we have today. He is very professional, puts in effort and has a lot of input.

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