Hrithik Roshan is extremely excited about photoshoots, says celeb photographer Dabboo Ratnani

In a one on one conversation with Pinkvilla, Dabboo talks in detail about how the photography field has evolved over the years, how has the paparazzi culture affected concept shoots, his favourite celebrity to shoot and more
Hrithik Roshan is extremely excited about photoshoots, says celeb photographer Dabboo RatnaniHrithik Roshan is extremely excited about photoshoots, says celeb photographer Dabboo Ratnani
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Glamour is the direct synonym of Bollywood. Out tinseltown stars are mounted on a pedestal and are loved by gazillions for their screen presence, charm and hardwork. While they do strive really hard to reach that position, an equal amount of hard work if not more is put forth by their team whose only mission is to give it their best and to make the stars dazzle. One such ‘behind-the-scenes’ hero is celebrated Bollywood fashion photographer, Mr. Dabboo Ratnani. 

 

Boasting of an illustrious career of over 25 years, Ratnani has shot the who’s who and the big wheels from the fashion and glamour industry. His calendar shoots are the most famous with audiences waiting  eagerly to see their favourite stars in a new avatar. In a one on one conversation with Pinkvilla, Dabboo talks in detail about how the photography field has evolved over the years, how has the paparazzi culture affected concept shoots, his favourite celebrity to shoot and more. 

 

How has this creative profession changed and evolved ever since you’ve started out?

D: Oh, it has changed massively. When I had started back in the day I used to shoot on films, so I’ve pretty much been through the entire transforma

tion. From films to digital, cameras have changed drastically, the equipment have drastically. I’ve seen so many photographers entered the industry, the business changing in terms of the numbers, the money, everything. There’s far too much that has happened in the past 25 years of my career. 

 

 

With celebrities being papped almost everyday, do you think photoshoots are losing its importance and relevance?

D: I think celebrities getting papped is an additional thing which we get to see. I think campaigns, photoshoots and doing conceptual pictures will always have its own space. It’s great fun to see these paparazzi pictures but you know you give it a look and move on. A conceptual photoshoot however has the longevity in your memory. You know when I meet people they still compliment me for my shoots that I had shot back in say 2007 or 2005. So it's nice to see how the audience connect to the concept. I shoot a lot outdoors and on locations with some props which automatically just adds value. It is not like a regular studio shoot which has being my USP as well from the very beginning of my career. When I started my career back in ‘94, it was more of a studio based shoots, safer pictures, the styling was a bit too over-the-top. I on the other hand started shooting actors more like their real self, capture a slice of their life so I think that kind of created a signature style for me. Today because of social media almost everyone is a photographer so all of this really pushes me to do better and keeps me on my toes. 

 

 

Do the actors have a say in conceptualising the shoot or they give you complete freedom?

D: Most of them give me complete freedom but that sometimes becomes a lot of pressure for me. I personally prefer if an actor gets involves as the idea in my head gets clearer and it just makes the whole process a lot easier. But then you have Shah Rukh Khan and Mr. Bachchan who give me complete freedom majorly because of the trust of so many years. Mr. Bachchan rarely ever comes to the tethered laptop screen to see how the photos have come out. So he completely leaves it on me. The challenge comes in for me when after doing so many photoshoots you still have to come up with something which is interestingly unique and what excites you the most. In my 25 year old career I’ve seen a lot of photographers make a mark and then fizzle out. In the end it’s not about creating one or two successful shoots, it is about being consistent throughout. 

 

 

Your calendar is extremely iconic so how do you pick the month for every actor?

D: I try and put some as per their birthdays. Most of the time Shah Rukh is in November so is Aishwarya, Akshay is in September, Mr. Bachchan is in October. If not then I try to place them in a way that the two photos go well together, since our calendar has two actors for each month. December is Manisha and my birthday so we usually try and keep our favourite shots in that month. 

 

 

Who is the most camera-friendly actor? 

D: Like I said earlier, they are all actors so they’re all very camera-friendly. The one who is extremely excited about photoshoots is Hrithik. I shot his first ever portfolio which is before Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. He got the film with my pictures actually. His involvement with the photoshoot is amazing. Even John Abraham for that matter, he is extremely effortless. Tiger Shroff, Alia Bhatt, from the new generation, these people are the ones who want to and are open to experimenting. I love Akshay Kumar too, I think he is fantastic and I enjoy shooting with him and I’ve shot with him ever since I’ve started my career. He is in fact half a photographer himself as he assisted a photographer before he became an actor. Sometimes he gives me his own set of ideas and says, “Chal yeh karte hai..” so there are a lot of inputs and suggestions which comes in from him. I share a very comfortable rapport and equation with all the actors and that’s what translates in the photos too.

 

 

If you could shoot one Hollywood celebrity then who would it be?  

D: I’ve always been a major fan of Madonna. From the day I decided to be a photographer I’ve been following her work, the photographers that she works with, the way she poses, basically everything. She is definitely much ahead of everybody. The kind of pictures that she used to do in the 90s, people do that now. She is absolutely incredible! 

 

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