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A yellow & black story; creativity on the streets of Mumbai

The BBC India Season is bringing back some great memories of living and working for three years in Mumbai, or Bombay as the locals like to call this incredible sensory overload of a city with a population of over 20 million.

Back in 2009 when leaving the UK for India, Slum Dog Millionaire gave a few true and not so true insights into what could be expected of Mumbai, but it was a Creative Review issue in April 2009 that sparked the imagination.

Teaming up with Mumbai design agency Grandmother India, Creative Review commissioned one of the city’s leading taxi artists, who ‘pimps’ the city’s 58,000 fleet to attract customers, to takeover one of the famous yellow and black taxis. Whether it’s the gods, the city’s neighbourhoods or just anything the driver likes, each Mumbai ‘yellow and black’ is unique and a vibrant icon of Mumbai. Sadly the taxi artists’ skills are being applied to a more modern, bland fleet now the iconic Padmini Fiats, first introduced in 1964, are seeing reliability and more room take precedent over classic styling.

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© Photo by Aashim Tyagi
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© Photo by Aashim Tyagi

On a recent trip to Mumbai, I paid a visit to one of the city’s taxi artists and witnessed firsthand a taxi being ‘pimped’ complete with an interior Cath Kidston would be proud of, along with a rear window type design of my local neighbourhood, Bandra. An amazingly friendly, welcoming and enlightening experience, just like taking a ride in the taxis themselves where a fare of £3.50 will take you for a 1.5 hour drive be it on your own, with your family, animals, goods or seven of you coming back from a night out in South Mumbai.

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Mumbai ‘yellow and blacks’ are special and they vary in the quality of  ‘pimp’ so it’s great to see a recent Kick Starter project allowing up-and-coming artists in Mumbai to express their work inside the famous taxis. The Mumbai ‘yellow and black’ is reaching a new height of creative status.

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© Kunel Gaur
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© Samya Arif

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