Dabboo Ratnani 2018 Report!

Okay, there are a few images beginning to filter out of the calendar-that-isn’t-a-calendar.  For newbies, Dabboo is the biggest celebrity photographer.  And every year, he gets together with his celebrity friends and shoots a calendar.  24 images, which are revealed at a party in January, and then 24 copies of the calendar are made and given to the models.  That’s it, you can’t buy it, and the images aren’t made available to the public.  Except through illegal fuzzy reprints that slowly leak out on the internet over the course of the next 24 hours.  Which is their purpose, to be leaked so we all know Dabboo’s name and he gets publicity.  Dabboo Dabboo Dabboo.

Here’s the other important thing to know.  Dabboo’s business is a family affair.  His wife does the lighting for him, and his 3 kids are running around on every shoot.  Which is why everyone agrees to do the shoots, because his kids (especially his oldest daughter) are really something special.  They’ve been doted on and spoiled and loved by the whole industry since day one.  And it gives a little added touch to these super sexy photos knowing that there is a bossy chatty little girl yammering away in the background the whole time they are being shot.

Related image

Here’s an old video of Shahrukh “interviewing” her:

And now, on with the show!  These are the super early images, so they were clearly taken at the gallery opening, through the glass, and are not that great.  Also probably not complete, Dabboo sometimes shoots multiple versions that are released over time.  But this is what we have for now!

Sanjay Dutt.  Which I love.  This may be my favorite, a nice composition and a nice moment and a really nice smile on Sanjay.

Image result for dabboo ratnani calendar 2018

Sidharth Malhotra.  Who is a professional model and I feel like he knows a little better how to sell these photos.  I’m not getting as much personality, but I am getting the perfect expression and so on to fit the concept Dabboo was going for.

Image result for dabboo ratnani calendar 2018

Oh Tiger!  This is the first one that I begin to find a little boring.  Dabboo shoots these mostly in his backyard/studio area, sometimes at people’s houses.  The problem is, after over 10 years of this calendar, he’s kind of done everything already that he can do in the backyard.  I know I’ve seen that wall and window before.  Tiger is new, but the composition isn’t thrilling me.  Especially because what Tiger is doing is what he always does, so that part isn’t new to me.


Shahrukh!!!!!  Not my favorite Shahrukh, but then this is also a very bad blurry version of it.  I like the idea of the make-up and the kind of glam-rock look, I’m not sure if it lives up to his spectacular previous SRK photos.


Arjun Rampal.  This is nice.  Another former model, he isn’t doing anything too showy (TIGER!), but he is nicely fitting in with the idea and I am drawn to looking at his face.


Farhan Akhtar. Eh.  I feel like Dabboo has done this idea too many times before, fully clothed in water.  It’s probably easy, most stars have a swimming pool, but it’s not that imaginative.  Also, Farhan is trying too hard to look cool.


Varun Dhawan.  Now this one is really interesting!!!!  It’s the same “big tires” set up that he used for Shahrukh last year, but the angle is really interesting, and he managed to catch a totally new expression on Varun’s face, probably by giving him this super awkward position that distracted him from putting on a mask.


Hrithik Roshan.  I really want a better version of this photo and I want to study it!  I can’t tell if it is trickery, or if Hrithik really is looking in a mirror and his expression is that different from a different angle.  Either way it is a very cool concept, especially in terms of the introspective scandal ridden sort of life Hrithik has right now.


Amitabh. On a bike.  I am getting deja vu, it really feels like Dabboo has done this with him before.  But then, it’s Amitabh, how many options are there?  I like the purple suit and the sunglasses, he is looking very good at least.


Akshay Kumar.  This is great!!!!  I assume it is at Akshay’s house, because I don’t think Dabboo has horses.  I love the sincere smile on his face, I love the contrast between the two horse heads, I love everything.  This is a photo I would sincerely enjoy just as Art, even without a famous person in it.


Aamir Khan.  This is brilliant.  No fancy bells and whistles, no nothing, just an interesting angle and Aamir’s own face to carry it.  I love this photo.


Abhishek Bachchan. Eh.  Definitely seen this before too.  Kind of weird that Abhishek is still wearing glasses and a coat inside, but whatever.


Aishwarya.  This is clearly not the full photo, but almost all of it.  Looks like she is blowing confetti maybe?  Aish cannot take a bad photo, so Dabboo kept it simple I am guessing, just a close up of her face and some flying sparkles.  Unless the border we can’t see reveals a tiger or something.


Alia.  Eh.  So-so.  Kind of a spooky concept of age appearing under her skin, which maybe he was going for her surprising maturity.  But I’m not sure if it works.


Sonakshi Sinha.  This is a great photo!  Totally different awesome tough kind of look for her.  Maybe I could do without that weird lens flare thing, but it also sort of draws your eye, so I guess it is okay.


Jacqueline Fernandez.  I also love this photo!  Simple, nice composition, and feels like Jacqueline, like it captured her unique personality.


Kajol.  Very nice.  Same bathtub we’ve seen over and over and over again, but I like how Kajol is selling it like she is just sitting in a normal thing instead of playing it all sexy or eccentric.  And she looks really really great, like herself, but the best possible version of herself.


Kriti Sonam.  BO-ring!!!!!  Nothing new, nothing exciting, same photo that hundreds of photographers have done before him.  Works well with Kriti, she has a kind of tough cowgirl vibe, but really?  You couldn’t think of anything else?


Parineeti Chopra.  I really really hate this.  Boring concept, and also it turns her into this sad little waif type, which is not what she is at all.  I feel like her face is even saying that a little bit, struggling to keep the bubbly girl inside.  And her photo last year was so great!


Priyanka Chopra.  Also, BO-ring!!!!!  I feel like I’ve seen her do this hooded routine before for Dabboo even.  Certainly if she hasn’t someone else has.


Shraddha Kapoor.  Not terribly imaginative or interesting.


Sunny Leone. Really?  This is the best you can come up with?


Vidya Balan.  The caption says Vidya but I almost can’t believe it.  She looks sooooooo different from usual, which is sort of a remarkable accomplishment all on its own.




And that’s it!  That’s all the ones I can find so far!

UPDATE: Found a different image of the Shahrukh photo which I like a lot better.  The gold tone brings out his skin in a nice way, and makes his expression easier to read.  Plus it is just more in focus than the other one.



So, of these:

Most favorite:

Definitely Sanju

Image result for dabboo ratnani calendar 2018

Least favorite:

Definitely Parineeti



Most interesting as a photo:

tie between Akshay and Aamir




How about you?


35 thoughts on “Dabboo Ratnani 2018 Report!

  1. I think I go for the Akshay Kumar one as best-as-photo. Partly because I’m a sucker for horses on camera, but also because it’s good! The Hrithik one is a close second, though. The only problem is that I’m distracted by (a) his hair and (b) his tattoo.


    • I am hopeful that if we see a “clean” version of the Hrithik photo, without the reflection on the glass and the odd angle, it will be much better.

      On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 10:45 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. Priyanka apparently wasn’t there this year, so he recycled an old photo from a couple of years ago (according to online comments).

    That photo of Vidya looks like it might be from her Dirty Picture days. More recycling going on?

    I’ve seen some other photos from the shoot. But maybe they’re not part of the “gallery”?

    I don’t find any of these (or the others) particularly great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw some other photos too, but they weren’t part of the official “gallery” coverage, so I wasn’t sure if they were rejects that were circulating, or if the sources I was looking at just hadn’t seen them yet. And of course there are always a ton of photos from previous calendars being posted online with claims that they are this years, quite the memory challenge to sort through and avoid those!

      I like your recycled theory. Might explain why the Priyanka photo felt so familiar to me, if it was the same costuming and set-up he had used before.

      There are only a couple that really pop for me here, even Shahrukh just isn’t that exciting this year. I think Aamir is the one that feels most different, without all the bells and whistles he usually uses. I know I’ve seen the Sanjay kind of set-up from him before, but he caught a different expression on Sanjay than we usually see. I don’t know if that is credit to the photographer for capturing the expression, or just a lucky coincidence, because the rest of the photo isn’t that interesting.

      On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 10:47 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hate them all, except Aishwarya and Kriti and maybe Varun and Sid *because* they are all just straight forward glamour shots that don’t try to be artful. He’s just really not that good a photographer, I don’t get it. The Hrithik one is terrible (see our conversation on how he’s never that great in posed photos) and the hair makes him look like a woman. Priyanka looks like she’s giving birth and doing her breathing exercises. I’m in a snarky mood today:)


  4. Because I’m a maniac fan, I went back to your 27 images of Shah Rukh and learned something I didn’t know about the calendar! It used to ACTUALLY BE A CALENDAR with dates on it. Now its just pictures which struck me as odd. I can’t stand Akshay (the blatant political pandering of his films) but you are right about the image. I also agree about all the ones that seem hackneyed. Ash is blowing gold leaf….

    Liked by 1 person

    • We agreed last year I think that the key is to befriend the least famous person in the calendar (not sure who that would be this year), the one most desperate for friends, slowly work your way into their life, and then eventually steal their unique Dabboo calendar.

      Alternatively, you could just take each of these photos and make your own calendar.

      But mostly I think every year “why not release it as an actual calendar? We would all buy it!” or alternative, “why still call it a calendar? Why not just call it the annual 24 photo collection?”


  5. I like Arjun, Hrithik (it’s a pasted together top and bottom, as the line and length of the arm doesn’t match, but I think it makes him look interesting which is a win), Abhishek (though I wish he weren’t wearing shades), Amitabh, and Ajay. I agree that Varun’s expression looks more real than usual. Aamir’s is interesting. I like his expression but I’m distracted by the angles of his body and head, his ears, and the edges of the photo–feel like I’m looking at a geometry exercise.

    I really like Kajol’s shot because it looks like he got a real expression/position between poses. I like the picture of Vidya but I always think she’s stunning, there’s nothing original or deep about it. I like Alia’s and Jacqueline’s photos. Hate Parineeti’s and Sunny’s. Would have been much more interesting to go a non-porny route with Sunny. She’s a legit beautiful woman with a distinct look so he could have gone lots of other directions.

    I like Shah Rukh’s mainly because that little smile shows he’s not taking it too seriously, despite the intense look. It’s kind of cynical in a way which matches the jaded, rock star look. Very Lestat! I’m very glad it’s in black and white and so starkly/artificially lit–cool effect on his eyes. While he’s adorable as always in the BTS outtakes, in color and just moving around he looked a little too Keith Richards for my taste. 🙂

    I watched a bit of Abhishek at the launch (he “unveiled” the photos because Amitabh wasn’t well), and he seemed his normal grounded, slightly dopey but charming self. Any more news about him work-wise?


    • Kajol almost always feels “real” to me in photos. And onscreen for that matter! But half the time that means she comes across as grumpy and unpleasant. In this photo it feels like a real moment, and the best possible moment.

      I am looking forward to better Shahrukh photos coming out, this version was so very very blurry I feel like I’m not getting the subtlety of the expression.

      I was so disappointed with Sunny’s! Even shooting her like he shot Vidya or Alia would have been interesting, just focusing on her face and the unique parts of it. Heck, give her the Parineeti pose and give Parineeti her pose, that would have been interesting!

      No new news on the Abhishek front, unless I missed something. He had that flurry of film announcements, but hasn’t actually started filming anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw a part of the launch with Sunny and her husband and her interaction with little Myrah…she is a really nice woman 🙂
    About the pictures…I think the shooting is mostly fun…the outcome not that much. I like the idea with the black-white horses, the idea behind the sepia-coloured ShahRukh pic (fortunately he doesn’t take himself seriously) and the ‘sandy’ Alia. Most of Dabboo’s work is just okay in my eyes, nothing spectacular.
    Me, too, I don’t understand why he isn’t doing a real calendar. This way now it seems to be nothing but a publicity gimmick.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder if the whole thing is just to keep connections with the celebrity clients? Go to his house for a fun afternoon, play with his kids, and then get a glossy calendar. From what I have heard, people do request him and he gets a lot of work that way, if FilmFare or Forbes or someone is shooting you, you might say “Hey, can you get Dabboo to do the photo shoot? I like him and I like his kids and I enjoy working with him”.

      It almost makes more sense if that is the primary motive, and the publicity to get us all talking about him is second. I mean, how much work can I throw Dabboo’s way, you know? It’s not like I am going to hire him for my Christmas card because I saw his Shahrukh photos!

      On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 12:51 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  7. In my opinion those “calendars” become more boring every year. The same faces, the same poses, the same places.

    There are only few photos I liked this year: First Varun, because he doesn’t look like Varun, but when I saw this giant tire I thought: Tovino does it better
    Second Alia, Jacqueline Fernandez and maybe Vidya.
    The worst: Basically all with special mention for Parineeti in Toilet- Ek prem katha pose and Sunny – terrible, terrible idea and photo.
    Most interesting: I have never, ever liked Aamir photo in all my life, but I like this one. I think it’s because of the beard .


    • I understand that it would be hard to drop someone from the “calendar” list at this point, but he really needs new blood. He seems to bring in one new actress and actor every year (I think this is the first year for both Tiger and Kriti), but he really should think about breaking it down to the bare bones and just keeping Shahrukh and Aishwarya and maybe Amitabh, but starting fresh with everyone else.

      And maybe also offering more to shoot at their houses then in his house, because those props are looking tired.

      On the other hand, there is something special about this running tally on the industry. I joked about him shooting my Christmas card, but that’s kind of what it feels like, a Christmas card shoot. Seeing the same people in the same place year after year.

      On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 2:25 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  8. Shah Rukh’s looks more blue/silvery in the photos/videos of the launch. I think the gold/red edit may be a fan edit. Looking forward to a hi-def version from Dabboo or some other insider at some point.

    Cracks me up how Varun is upside down at first in this video. And yes, I do need to get a life. I like the “clubby” feel of it, but I think it’s weird that Priyanka is still in the club even though she’s not around, while, say Anushka isn’t in the club?


    • Good point! Anushka isn’t in the club! That’s weird. And Dips too. Ranveer was there last year I think, but so far looks like not this year.

      On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 2:41 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Or Aishwarya and her husband why are they in this calendar? None of them had a movie in 2017. And it’s obvious that Daboo didn’t have a idea what to do with Aish. She is gorgeous as usuall, but her photo looks like ad of christmas chocolates, very commercial and boring.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Also, no Kat! Who had a couple movies in 2017 and is a top figure in the industry.

          Maybe it’s just who says yes? It is at least a day of work for no pay, some of them have relationships with Dabboo that make them willing and happy to do it, but I could see other people going “ugh, an unpaid shoot in your backyard? Why would I do that?”

          On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 3:03 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          • Daboo did mention that it’s getting harder and harder to get people for the calendar. Everyone is busy and has packed schedules. I guess that’s why the same people are shown over and over because they are his friends and will eke out some time for him. Arjun Rampal is in the calendar and he’s not even relevant anymore. I would say the same for Abhishek and even Priyanka. Even the props are the same. The same old bathtub shots, etc. The same old shirtless shots of guys like Tiger and someone in the swimming pool. Boring!

            I don’t think he’s very generic and not very talented but he has good connections and that keeps him going.


          • Maybe the answer is for Dabboo to just buy a new house? Start fresh with a totally new bedroom/backyard/swimming pool?

            Also, I will never not find Arjun Rampal relevant! I love Arjun Rampal forever and ever! Arjun shall rise again. Or at least, always take a very pretty picture.

            Liked by 1 person

    • I just found Jacqueline’s last year, and it’s great too! He really has a good sense for her.

      On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 3:26 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



        • But a better photo! Her hair flying up, her expression, it’s just a little more interesting.

          I guess that’s one thing that’s interesting about the same calendar every year, we can see the same set and the same pose, but how some photos are just better than others because the moments are just better.

          On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 3:31 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • I found Abhi photo a little claustrophobic and infantile. He is too tall and too old to jump on the bed 😉


  9. You know what Daboo should do next year- Family edition calendar. All famous people with their families. He has here Abhi and Aish separately, why not make a lovely family portrait with Aaradhya? Sharukh with AbRam. Unmarried people with the parents, Sunny Leone with her husband and daughter.


  10. Daboo’s calendar is not exciting any more.But I have to admit the horses saved the day.And why is does Sanjay Dutt’s poor dog all bound up? Not that the latter looks unhappy.


    • Maybe that’s why Sanjay is smiling? The dog kept barking and running away and it made him laugh, so they had to tie the dog up but Sanjay was still laughing about it? I’m so happy he has a dog. Makes me almost as happy as the twins in the “Sanjay finally has joy in his life” category.

      On Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 7:10 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  11. Pingback: Silly Sunday: 3 Films from Dabboo’s Calendar | dontcallitbollywood

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