The year’s most awaited calendar featuring Bollywood stars was launched on Sunday, 9th January. Ace lensman Dabboo Ratnani unveiled the 12th edition saying that for 2011, he had decided not to restrict himself to a particular theme. “I took shots indoor and outdoor, in whatever light was available. I’ve returned to my signature style,” he explains.
The 24 models, two for each month, have been placed in contrasting situations and taken back to their roots. So, Amitabh Bachchan, in a pinstriped suit, has been shot at a roadside barbershop. Shah Rukh Khan was taken to a construction site close to his heritage bungalow, Mannat. “Shah Rukh is open to experimenting and doesn’t ask questions. He simply called me home to pick out his clothes. I chose a tuxedo,” reminisces Ratnani, adding that he managed to elicit a puzzled smile from the Bollywood Badshah when he asked for a gardener’s cycle. “But he’s a trusting actor who surrenders himself completely to a photographer’s vision. Later, when he saw the pictures, his first reaction was ‘Wow!’ He rarely goes wow over his own pictures.”
For the Kareena Kapoor shoot, Ratnani came up with half-a-dozen concepts. “But the one with a guitar appealed to her the most, I guess because Saif plays the instrument,” smiles Ratnani, whose friendship with Kapoor goes back to 1993. “Bebo has great body language and plenty of energy so instead of shooting her from eye level, I decided on a top angle. I made her lie on the bed with a guitar, light streaming in from a window, and perched myself above her, seven feet up. The angle made all the difference.”
When shooting in busy outdoor locations, Ratnani admits he tries to pass himself off as a tourist. His biggest experiment was making Asin sit on a divider behind the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, wearing a sexy outfit and painting her toenails. “There were no lights or reflectors, just Asin, my camera and I. We were out in five minutes. And like all the others, this picture also tells a story,” he says.