BANGALORE: Dilip Raj aka Bike Raj, famous for designing five unique bikes for Upendra's forthcoming directorial venture Uppi 2, is now using his skills to help the disabled. He fits two-wheeler bikes with a supporting fixture and has also designed a sidecar for them.
"A physically challenged person is at least 10 per cent more intelligent than a normal person, though in a different way. It is not difficult for such individuals to handle a vehicle on the road. All they need is design support to feel independent," says Raj, who has, till date, fitted 18 vehicles used by physically challenged drivers. He charges them a token fee for the material and modifies their vehicles for free.
He says, "This is not something I am doing out of pity. I feel proud when I watch them on road and my gesture is one of respect for the courage they show. I also plan to give one free vehicle to a disabled person, who can't afford it. In fact, I have tied up with a startup called Cozy Side Car to distribute these fitments."
Initially a fashion designer, it was Raj's sons who got him interested in automobile design. He soon began tinkering with vehicles and restored some vintage cars. He then began to customise automobiles for Kannada films.
His colourful outlet in Jayanagar 8th block, Team Jespatta, gets many customers on a daily basis. He says with a smile, "I used the first few letters of the vehicles I have customised from jeeps to Royal Enfield bikes, Vespa and Lambretta scooters to come up with the name of the outlet."
Raj is also planning to introduce an aluminium fixture, which will help the disabled walk. He shares, "I am currently doing the research and if it is successful, these aluminium plates serve as limbs and possibly enable people to run. I hope to succeed in this venture."
When Raj looks back at his journey, he feels deep gratitude towards all those who helped him along the way. Says he, "I am indebted to my first foreman Shukur and K Surendra aka Suri, who is my godfather as I have learnt a lot from him. I started with one assistant andnow eight skilled people work for me. One of my employees, Zebiullah, is a master craftsman. He turns my designs and vision into reality. Imagination is our biggest tool."
Raj owns around 15 bikes, eight jeeps and a couple of vintage cars, which can be rented, and have been used in about 65 films. But he gets maximum satisfaction from helping the disabled.
For bike fitments for the disabled, call: 97380 23345