He is friends with Bollywood’s biggest stars. But acclaimed photographer Dabboo Ratnani reiterates “they are not for convenience. I don’t misuse my friendships and always try to portray them in a good light.” CS chats him up
Who: Dabboo Ratnani, photograher
What: Talking about his love for the lens
The childhood bug
As a child, I was into gizmos and gadgets. Once I found an old camera in my dad’s drawers and began randomly clicking pictures. It grew into an obsession. When I had the option of pursuing my passion and going back to dad’s business, I chose to become an assistant to learn the ropes of the trade. In course of time, I began shooting friends like Pooja Bhatt and Atul Agnihotri. Later, I took on work as an independent photographer.
The calendar year
In 1999, there was a huge frenzy around the change of the century. I wanted to do something novel and hit upon the idea of bringing out a calendar with 12 of my pictures. I distributed those among my friends and associates in the industry. The response was tremendous and I was prompted to continue the annual tradition. I haven’t commercialised it by putting it up for sale (only complimentary copies are given out). Deepika Padukone recently told me that my annual calendar brought Bollywood together. It was a huge compliment.
Mr Bachchan (Amitabh Bachchan) is the coolest person to photograph. We were once shooting in London’s Leicester square and to avoid being mobbed, I requested him to come to the shooting venue once I had set up the lighting. But he insisted on coming along with me and stayed on till the shoot was over. He later said that the vibe that a star gives is an invitation to being mobbed or not. It was a learning experience.
Priyanka Chopra is a delight to work with. She is always ready to experiment and do crazy stuff in front of the camera. Her bindaas attitude adds a lot of value to a picture. Similarly, Hrithik Roshan works very hard on his pictures. He has a lot of knowledge about photography and gives valuable inputs.
A tough call
A photographer’s job is more than just clicking pictures. He has to put a concept together, decide on the clothes to be worn and even create the ambience. There are times when an actor is not in the best of his moods. I let them get into the right frame of mind by putting on some soothing music and making them comfortable by creating a pleasant ambience.
My wife Manisha is very involved and supports my work. Since she takes care of the administration and production part, I can focus on the creative aspect of my job. I can trust her completely to do things for me.