Ever thought of painting with your feet! God gifted Foot Artist inspires to break human barriers to make it possible - The story of Uttam Kumar Bhardwaj
Uttam Kumar Bhardwaj
Shri Munshi Ram
Shrimati Kesri Devi
2nd February 1979
Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir
Proudly says ‘imd1’ for
Everyone is taught painting as a child. You are given a few crayons to play with and there begins your journey with art. It was a tad bit different for Uttam Kumar Bhardwaj. The reason was simple; his talent was acknowledged at a young age of six. Through his beliefs and practices, he makes it evident that he won’t let his origin and culture go for a toss; Bhardwaj clearly stays intact to his roots. Winner of 33 awards, he uses his left feet to express his arts. One of the first Indian Artist to be verified on Twitter, he has also run a campaign wherein he made paintings of Narendra Modi. Later, they were trending on Twitter across various countries. Someone who has a deep passion towards working for the social welfare of physically handicapped people, Bhardwaj is undeniably, a noble soul. Let us read his inspiring story.
We are keen to know; how did your journey begin?
Since, first standard of my school life, I used to draw landscapes and cars from my books and gift them to friends. So, when I was in third standard, my teacher approached me for making a card for a guest speaker from educational field, who would be coming to school and hell be addressing the student assembly and advising them about how to go ahead with their studies. I made a card with a landscape drawn and painted beautifully, my teacher invited me to come on the stage and gift it to him. When I went over the stage, and my teacher told him, that this child has made the card himself, he appreciated me a lot and gave me Rs. 300 as a token of appreciation. This token left a deep impact on me, and I decided to stay connected with this work or talent of mine and never leave it behind. Thats where my journey started.
What’s your success mantra?
Success mantra, well hard work and dedication is the only success mantra for me. Do hard work, without any intention of having favorable results only.
Your Quote for life
I am a priest of art, without art my day is incomplete
Shri Narendra Modi ji
My teachers, Joshika, a girl from America is a pilot today and she is handicapped
Food I Love
North Indian food, Rajma Chawal, Sarson Ka Saag aur Makki Ki Roti
Food I Hate
Pizza, Chinese food, Fast food
Like Vacations at
Favorite Pass time
Suno Sabki aur Karo Apne Dil Ki
Favorite Movies / Series
Favorite Actor / Actress
What were the hardships / hurdles your encountered and the way you overcame in your journey?
There were a lot of times, I faced hardships and bad days, but I stayed connected with this, whatever opportunities knocked my gate, I grabbed them, I participated in all competitions. There were people who kept motivating me to go ahead with it, but there were also people who tried to obstruct or demoralize me. I had decided that Ive to pay attention only to those things which keep me indulged in my work and ignore things which distract me. One of my elders used to say, that you should always try being a swan and not a crow, because a crow lives in dirty surroundings and pricks in garbage, rather a swan collects pearls from the sea. We should be like a swan and take good things from people and ignore the bad.
Success is incomplete without its share of failures. How should one overcome them to move on?
Failures are a part and parcel of life. Once, I was in Bangalore in 2009 for a workshop, and there was a press conference, where all the paintings were presented. Then, I used to work only on Madhav raj paintings and not any others. There was a lady visitor in the press conference, and she was randomly asked, about my paintings. She gave some negative views on it, she said that I cant go beyond my limitations, I can only paint Madhav raj paintings and nothing else. I made a point to myself, seeing my disability, people have set a border line for me, and I must cross those border lines and present something beyond my comfort zone. After that, I presented my paintings only in solo shows, and showcased paintings in different themes, and never presented them in group exhibitions.
Who has been your influencer in this journey & how?
I always wanted to do something for the disabled people and wanted to take them ahead in life. I came across a disabled person who has earned the most fame in the world under disabled people and read a lot about her. She was Josika from America, and shes a pilot in air force, and she doesnt have any of her hands. When I read about her and her bio data, it had a deep effect on me; I was so motivated and inspired from her, that I decided to showcase my talent all over the world. I started using social media and presented my talent in public to reach out to the world. She inspired me a lot.
Which was “that” moment when you consider yourself as “I Am The 1”?
I havent yet felt that, “I Am The 1” but yes, many times, for disabled people, they start considering this as a sport, how do they start with their career, or how do they become independent and stand on their own legs, then I feel, that people after seeing my journey, my life, and my career ask me to advise them and show them the way, it feels nice that they consider me as an inspiration, that feeling is certainly something to feel good about.
Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?
No, theres a course for this but I havent really done that. I believe, what makes a person artist are three people, that is art lovers, fans of their art, or their well-wishers. What made me an artist, are my buyers, my well-wishers, and the ones who criticized my work, in some of my exhibitions, there were people who didnt appreciate my work, they didnt like my paintings, that motivates me to struggle more and improve. Criticism is like negative motivation for me. God has instilled this thought in me, that dont be jealous of others, rather compete with them. Thats what made me an artist. When it comes to training, Ive trained myself to use my foot and mouth in a way to get the perfect stroke, my well-wishers always gave me books which had different paintings and I tried making them, I learnt it myself, viz color combination, strokes, shading and all those minute detailing.
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Art in remote parts of India?
I am from a remote area of India. People dont encourage the art, neither they understand it. Government must provide a platform to artists from remote areas and make opportunities available to them. There are a lot of young children who cant reach to even their state level, because theres a lack of a platform to present their talent and the talent remains hidden in villages. There needs to be a supportive campaign for the upcoming artist and by the government of India.
How can one identify & encourage talent in the family?
Its visible in the child from the beginning, where his interests, how much time he gives to a activity. Right now, my daughter is good in computer sciences, she was awarded a gold medal for a competition held by IIT Bombay in her school of something related to computers recently, looking at her I wont tell her to be a doctor or pilot instead I will tell her to do something in the computer sciences field, itll be good for her and me as well.
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
Today, parents actually force children to do what they want them to do, what they always wanted them to do, like if a child wants to become a doctor, they might force him to become a bureaucrat or IAS, and tell him that hell earn more, whether he has interest or not, and this way he wont be able to become a doctor neither an IAS. I think, where the child has an interest, parents should encourage him for the same. My parents and my wife have supported me a lot in my journey.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down memory lane…
Whatever has happened in time, has happened just perfectly, I dont want to change anything