Mumbaikars are no stranger to the Fiat Padmini. It’s beautiful chrome lined headlights, tight figure that nimbles it’s way through traffic, and iconic front grill are part of the city’s landscape. While Ambassadors were once the kings of Indian roads, the Padmini was the veritable Queen of Bombay.
However, foreigners and people unfamiliar with Bombay’s love affair with the Padmini are often taken aback by how many black and yellow taxis frantically swarm around our city, their 1100cc engines humming like bumble bees. For example, Wes Anderson’s opening scene of The Darjeeling Limited is complete slack-jawed dedication to the little vehicle that nimbly threads through congested Indian roads. As a director with a keen eye for the beleaguered beauty of a bygone era he had to feature the Queen of Indian cars.
Markku Lahdeshmaki (switch up the consonants a bit and it could be a South Indian name), a Finnish photographer from Los Angeles, experienced a similar feeling when he was on assignment in India.
“When I first came into the city from the airport all the little taxis really caught my attention. One evening I was sipping beer in the hotel bar. I scribbled ideas on a napkin. I couldn’t shake the vision of all those taxis. So I sketched one of them with a man standing next to it. Immediately, I knew I wanted to do this project. The idea was different,” he commented to Scroll.
Nowadays it’s actually quite rare to find an abundance of non-production cars that still remain inseparable from the cities they helped define. There’s the Ford Falcon and Buenos Aires, the Studebaker Coupe-Express speckled about small towns in Texas, as well as the Padmini and Bombay.
That’s why this talented photographer who’s been clicking photos since he was a 4-year-old could not resist capturing the integral relationship the Padmini cab and Bombay share. In just a matter of three days Markku managed to capture a stunning project by the name of Mumbai Taxi Company.