Mumbai: Manji Ramani doesn’t need his hands to hold a paintbrush. His colourful paintings were made with him holding a brush in his mouth.
Ramani, 48, lost his limbs years ago and for 26 years his mouth has been his source of livelihood.
Ramani earned little as an artist until he became a member of the Mouth and Foot Painters Association of India (MFPA). "They give monthly scholarships and they organise exhibitions for me. I get a good price for my paintings," says Ramani.
The MFPA is an international organisation that markets paintings made by handicapped artists chosen from across India. Prints of the paintings are then used on calendars, greeting cards and bookmarks and other office stationery. Corporates also commission paintings on large canvases
“It is the largest self-help organisation run by the disabled artists themselves. The policy of the organisation is no pity and no charity," says Girish Kabra, Director of MFPA India.
That philosophy means organisation has to look for means of income: one such method is to use young marketing students to sell these artists works and make the brand a force to reckon with in the art market.
"We basically take the artists’ works to the corporate world, make them seen in the corporate world and establish corporate tie-ups for them," says Madhumita, a student, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies.
Manji made a painting for Independence Day: it showing India and the tricolour on top of a globe. MFPA artists say that’s their vision of India.