You only need heart to create art

list of 11 special artists from India who deserve as much recognition for the immense physical challenges they have had to overcome in their desire and passion to create. Be warned, all these special stories will bring tears to your eyes.

My Left Foot is perhaps the most famous work of art about a very special artist with special needs. Here’s an incomplete list of 11 artists from India who deserve as much recognition for the immense challenges they have had to overcome in their desire and passion to create. Be warned, all these special stories will bring tears to your eyes.

1. Swapna Augustine

Swapna Augustine was born in Kerala, without both her arms. However, even as a child, she made a habit of performing all tasks, including painting and drawing, with her feet. Here’s a selection of Swapna’s work to go with her stirring life story.


2. Bandenawaz Badshah Nadaf

Bandenawaz Badshah Nadaf was born into a poor family in Mumbai on 5th February 1987. His parents were devastated to discover that Bandenawaz had come into this world with a birth defect of both his upper limbs. But despite their financial difficulties, Bandenwaz’s family helped him to learn to write with his foot. See how far he has come from those initial steps.


3. Ganesh Kumar

Ganesh Kumar was born in Kannur, a small town in Kerala. At the age of just one, he was affected by polio. Despite this, Ganesh started writing and painting at the age of just 3 years. Gradually, over a period of time, Ganesh lost the complete use of his hands and feet, confining him to a wheelchair for life. Slowly he began to use his mouth to write and paint and hasn’t looked back since. Check out his work here.


4. Hari Ram Kohli

Hari Ram Kohli was born in Maharashtra in 1953. He fractured his spinal column while doing gymnastic exercises. He was paralysed from the neck down and became a quadriplegic. In 1978, he started teaching himself to draw and to paint with his mouth. See how much spine he has shown to do something substantial with his life.


5. Jayantilal Shihora

Jayantilal Shihora grew up as a healthy son of a grain merchant. At the age of fourteen, he lost both arms in an accident with a firework. He describes the months following as a “dark period full of depression”. Five years after his accident, he learned that there were artists who could paint with their mouth or feet. With perseverance and diligence he practiced drawing and writing with a pencil in his mouth. Soon afterwards he was able to control both a pencil and paintbrush in his mouth. A beginning had been made that you can view here.


6. Narasimhalu

Narasimhalu was born with cerebral palsy and is unable to use his upper limbs. He has limited mobility in his legs too due to this congenital birth defect. However, he strived hard to pursue his studies and attended regular high school. Later he took up a multimedia course and completed it with flying colours. As a child Narasimhalu always had a love for art. Look how far he has come since.


7. Manjibhai Ramani

In 1970, Manjibhai Ramani put his hands into a sugarcane crusher and had to have both of them amputated. This drove him to pick up the ability to paint with his mouth and secured a degree in painting and fine arts in a five-year study course. See how far he has come.


8. Naidu Elangoven

Naidu Elangoven was born in a small town near Chennai, in India. While he was employed with the Indian Air Force, a diving accident caused an injury to the spine leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. He was devastated and confined to the wheelchair and needed help with all his daily chores. But he was far from done. He slowly began to learn to use his mouth to write and then paint. See how well he has bounced back.


9. Neminath Phalke

Neminath Phalke lives in Aurangabad with his family. An accident, while serving the Indian Air force, paralyzed him from the neck down. Even though he was unable to use all his limbs and was confined to a wheelchair, Neminath decided to not give up on life. He taught himself mouth painting in 1988 and has excelled in this field ever since. Welcome to Phalke’s gallery.


10. Sunitha Trippankira

Sunitha Trippankira, on account of muscular dystrophy, lost the use of her hands and became unable to walk. Mouth painter Ganesh Kumar (a long-time scholarship holder with Mouth & Foot Painting Artists) encouraged the young artist to paint with her mouth. She enjoyed it very much and rapidly made considerable progress. Look how far she has come since.


11. Sheela Sharma

Sheela Sharma was born in Gorakhpur (U.P.) in 1968. She met with a train accident at the tender age of only four years and lost both of her arms in the mishap. Sheela was sent to a local primary school where she proved to be an excellent student and developed the faculty of holding articles with her mouth and feet which, in normal circumstances, would have found their place between her thumb and finger. See what other marvellous things Sheela can do.

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.

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