There was a period of time when the streets of Mumbai were filled with the iconic black and yellow Premier Padmini taxi’s.
The Fiat Padmini cabs have been the lifeline of the city that ‘never sleeps. It’s been ever central to the firmament of a city otherwise revered for its starry highs of Bollywood and a culture incessantly seeped in Cricket. Office-goers, entrepreneurs, students, housewives, shop owners, and the big shots have always sought in its simplicity and comfort way of life. But come June 2020, Mumbai will bid adieu to the famous Fiat Padmini taxi, the “black and yellow” cabs nicknamed “Kaali-Peeli” that has been a part of the everyday life in the bustling city of Mumbai.
But guess what? The financial capital of the country has decided to finally imagine a future sans the famed Fiat Padmini Taxi, which has been a famous part of the civilian landscape in post-Independent India.
But the final closure of the city’s intrepid love affair with the Padmini Fiat taxi(s) can be traced back to the year 2000. After all, the first step toward a systematic curtailing of these was taken nearly two decades back in time.
Back in 2000, the production of the famous “black and yellow” cabs was stopped. To a city that was bellied with hundreds of thousands of the seemingly irreplaceable Padmini taxis, this may have seemed a drastic step.
Nonetheless, it was part of a plan to phase out one of the most reliable and ageing means of commuting that had served among the most popular cities in all of India for decades together.
And now, in only a few months from now, Mumbai will cease to operate them altogether.
That said, it ought to be remembered that the famous Fiat Padmini was named after one of the most widely hailed Rajput princesses of all time: Maharani Padmini!
And truth be told, the taxis, ruled the city streets and avenues in grand fashion, much to the admiration of the everyday public. That said, it’s worthwhile to recount that the indigenous version of the Fiat 1100, the car was addressed as Premier President before the name Premier Padmini came to adorn one of Mumbai’s irreplaceable and everlasting symbols.
It may not be entirely incorrect to state that the Premier Padmini was an incessant symbol of an automotive culture in India that was miles away from the pleasures of owning luxury cars.
A decision to involve the cars into the mainstream was taken way back in the 1960s when the establishment in Mumbai decided to make the Fiat Padmini as the standalone taxi instead of the Ambassador, a car otherwise immensely popular in the cities of Delhi and Kolkata.
But the Fiat “Black and Yellow” taxi were indicative of budget or pocket-friendly commuting at its best. Friendships were forged, smiles exchanged, and new relationships were created in a happy but limited space of the famous four-wheeler, something as important to the city then as is the famous Bandra-Worli Sealink.
As the news reached the drivers and passengers in contemporary Mumbai about the city’s decision to retire the once-famous taxi, some keenly reminisced their memories about it, stating, “we always got a word of praise from commuters who found these cabs comfortable in terms of good leg space, suspension and also ride quality.”
While our times today have made space for the uber-cool comfort of a plethora of ride-sharing facilities, it ought to be said, that for the simplicity and ease of commuting, the ever-dependable Fiat Taxis shall not be forgotten! Goodbye, Mumbai’s lifeline.