Mary Ann Evans, better known as Fearless Nadia, took on stereotypes and with her whip in Hunterwali, became the Hindi film world’s queen of stunts.
The Indian film industry celebrates the impossible, showcasing actors completing death-defying acts and stunts and coming out with not a scratch.
And the credit for this high-voltage action goes to stuntpersons. Today’s Google Doodle commemorates the 110th birth anniversary of actor and stuntwoman Mary Ann Evans, better known as ‘Fearless Nadia’.
Nadia, dressed in leather boots with her face in a mask, beating bulky men to a pulp with her whip is her most famous image, which has been etched in public memory for generations.
Born as Mary Ann Evans, she made her mark as the queen of stunts and rose to fame in the 30s and 40s. She is most remembered for her titular role in Hunterwali in 1935 and was also one of the earliest female leads in Hindi cinema.
Born in 1908 to a Scottish father and a Greek mother in Perth, Mary shifted to Bombay at the age of five as her father served a soldier in the British army during the First World War. After her father died, Mary’s mother moved to Peshawar and there Mary learnt skills such as horseback riding, hunting, fishing and shooting.
Her mother returned to Bombay in 1926, and Mary started performing in the circus, the theatre and also trained in dance with a Russian dance teacher named Madame Astrova.
The troupe performed for British soldiers, Indian royalty, and even for the mass audiences.
Mary soon came to be known as Nadia after she changed her name on the advice of an Armenian fortune teller. She was told to pick a name starting with the alphabet ‘N’, and chose Nadia as it was "exotic-sounding".
In Bombay, Nadia collaborated with the Wadia Brothers - Jamshed and Homi – who were movie producers, and founders of Wadia Movietone. They introduced her to Hindi films and she found roles in Desh Deepak and Noor-e-Yaman before getting her big break in Hunterwali.
Gaining popularity with her stunts in Hunterwali, Nadia went on to star in a large number of movies performing all her stunts herself, risking her life several times.
Nadia married Homi Wadia in 1961.
It is interesting to note that Kangana Ranaut's character Jaanbaaz Julia in the film Rangoon was inspired by Fearless Nadia.
Today's Doodle was created by Bangalore-based comic illustrator Devaki Neogi. The illustration draws inspiration from the action movie posters of old-time Hindi cinema.
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