WFY Today

Know About The Fearless Stuntwoman Nadia

When Mary Ann Evans, an actress and stuntwoman better known by her stage name Fearless Nadia, made her debut in the Hindi film Hunterwali (The Woman with a Whip) in 1935, it completely rocked the Indian film industry.

She made an impression when she appeared, dressed in a cape, leather shorts, knee-high boots, and a whip. She was a blonde, blue-eyed woman of Australian descent.

The Greek mother and British father of Evans were born in Perth, Australia, in 1908, according to Rosie Thomas, the author of Bombay before Bollywood. She travelled to India in 1911 with her father’s army unit, but upon his passing, she moved to Bombay, or Mumbai, with her family.

Thomas claims that Evans, who had learned to ride a horse and dance as a child, travelled through India with a Russian ballet company and made a brief appearance at a circus.

The young artist gained popularity as a singer and dancer and began appearing in a variety of national venues.

Early in the 1930s, she was employed in circus acts and theatre when she was discovered by renowned Bollywood filmmaker JBH Wadia.

Initially, Wadia gave her little parts in films made by his brother Homi’s business, Wadia Movietone.

Evans had a “can-do-anything attitude” and was an excellent stunt performer, according to JBH Wadia’s grandson, Roy Wadia.

In Hunterwali, the Wadia brothers gave Lara her first leading role as an enraged princess who transforms into a masked vigilante in her quest for vengeance for her father’s murder at the hands of a villainous royal official.

Some, however, were not nearly as prepared to accept their vision, even though they were ecstatic about their new star.

As a result, they withdrew, and the Wadia brothers independently distributed the movie.

Thomas claims that Evans became the highest-paid female star of the 1930s and 1940s at the box office after the 1935 film became a major blockbuster and played to packed houses for weeks in theatres.

Due to the movie’s popularity, Wadia Movietone became a recognised name in the industry for its spectacular stunts and theatrics. In Hunterwali, Evan’s well-known cry, “hey-y-y,” became a catchphrase.

In her roles, she frequently played a cosmopolitan heroine who took the initiative to physically beat off antagonists in her films, even tossing strong men over her shoulder.
An enthralled audience was drawn to the actor’s on-screen persona due to her liveliness and stunt acumen. However, these weren’t always simple tasks.

During an interview with Karnad in 1980, Evans shared a terrible experience she had on a movie set. The actor was filming a sequence involving a lion for Jungle Princess (1942).

She was ultimately freed from the cage by the lion trainer.

Evans frequently transitioned effortlessly between Western and Indian clothes in her work.

Evans finally gave in to love and partnered with Homi Wadia, a relationship that was not well received by the Wadia family. His brother JBH Wadia was a devoted supporter of the couple, but they didn’t get married until after Wadia’s mother passed away.

According to Roy Wadia, Evans was a simple, everyday woman with a terrific sense of humour.

Evans and Homi Wadia hosted a Christmas party at their Juhu hut every year, entertaining friends, relatives, and colleagues in the industry.

Although Homi Wadia adopted Evans’s son from a previous marriage, the pair did not have any children of their own. Evans passed away in 1996, not long after turning 88. She may have been the first foreigner to become a Bollywood cult favourite.

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