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Never say die

Physically challenged dancer and artist felicitated at award ceremony in honour of their indomitable spirit.

entertainment Updated: Dec 02, 2010 15:06 IST
Aalap Deboor

One lost his hands in an accident at age 10. The other was born without legs. Today, the former is an artist who has won an award by the President, and the latter a hip-hop dancer featured on national television.

In the recently concluded Super Idols award ceremony, presented by news channel IBN7, Gujarat-based Manjibhai Ramani and Delhi-based Vinod Thakur were felicitated for their achievement in the Art, Culture and Entertainment category. The duo was also given a cash prize of Rs 1.11 lakh by the news channel and guest Salman Khan.

Ramani, now 52, had an accident at the age of 10 and lost both hands. At 11, he began writing using his mouth and went on to graduate in fine arts. “At a fair, I saw someone making a roti with their feet. That’s when I knew I wanted to paint using my mouth,” Ramani says.

Now, after 17 years of tutoring in painting and having won awards by the government, Ramani wants to open an art gallery in a Rs 1 crore bungalow he’s just purchased in Ahmedabad. “I will put up works by orphans and destitute children on display. And I won’t charge them a penny,” he says.

When a dance institute asked Thakur for Rs 2,000 as admission fee, he simply said, “I have talent, nothing else.” Nine months ago, he took up dancing at the behest of a friend who showed him a YouTube clip of a handicapped dancer.

Soon he began practicing in his 10-foot house and made his way through to India’s Got Talent, where he was praised by judges Sajid Khan and Sonali Bendre. “There’s nothing I believe I cannot do. I’m doing stunts that no one can imagine handicapped people are capable of. And that’s what keeps me going,” he says.

Now, Ramani believes he’s won enough awards and wants to focus on his art institute and gallery. “I want to teach poor people and hold exhibitions. There was no one to teach me, but I believe I can make a difference.” Thakur, too, has similar plans. “I have started a dance academy of my own, and plan to teach the handicapped for free. However, my ultimate dream is to represent India in America’s Got Talent,” he says.