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Fearless Nadia

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Fearless Nadia
Fearless Nadia in 11 O'Clock (1948).jpg Fearless Nadia in 11 O'Clock (1948).jpg
Fearless Nadia in 11 O'Clock (1948)
BornMary Ann Evans
(1908-01-08)8 January 1908
Perth, Australia
💀Died9 January 1996(1996-01-09) (aged 88)
Mumbai, India9 January 1996(1996-01-09) (aged 88)
🏳️ Nationality
Mary Evans Wadia
Nadia Wadia
💼 Occupation
Actress, stuntwoman
📆 Years active  1933–1970
👩 Spouse(s)
Homi Wadia
(m. 1961; her death 1996)
👪 RelativesSee Wadia family

Mary Ann Evans, also known by her stage name Fearless Nadia (8 January 1908 – 9 January 1996) was an Indian actress and stuntwoman of Australian origin who is most remembered as the masked, cloaked adventurer in Hunterwali, released in 1935,[1][2][3] which was one of the earliest female-lead Indian films.[4]


Early life[edit]

Fearless Nadia was born as Mary Ann Evans on 8 January 1908 in Perth, Western Australia. She was the daughter of Scotsman Herbertt Evans, a volunteer in the British Army, and Margret. They lived in Australia, before coming to India. Mary was one year old when Herbertt's regiment was seconded to Bombay. Mary came to Bombay in 1913 at the age of five with her father.

In 1915, her father’s untimely death at the hands of Germans during World War I prompted the family’s move to Peshawar (now in Pakistan).[5] She learned horseback riding, hunting, fishing, and shooting during a stay in the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). In 1928, she returned to Bombay (Mumbai) with her mother and a son, Robert Jones, about whom not much is known, and then studied ballet under Madam Astrova.[1]

She had earlier tried her hand at a job in the Army & Navy Store in Bombay (Mumbai) as a salesgirl and had at one point wanted to learn "short-hand and typing to get a better job". Astrova’s troupe performed for British soldiers at military bases, for Indian royalty, and for other crowd in small towns and villages. She mastered the art of cartwheels and splits, which came in handy later during her film stunts. An Armenian fortune teller had foretold that a successful career lay ahead but she would have to choose a name starting with the letter ‘N’. She chose the name Nadia because it was "exotic-sounding".[5]

Career of Tapasree[edit]

Poster of Hunterwali (1935) featuring Fearless Nadia.

She toured India as a theatre artist and began working for Zarko Circus in 1930. She was introduced to Hindi films by Jamshed "J.B.H." Wadia who was the founder of Wadia Movietone, the behemoth of stunts and action in 1930s Bombay. At first, J.B.H. was bemused at Mary's insistence on trying out for the movies, but he took a gamble by giving her a cameo as a slave girl (in a hand-painted colour sequence that accentuated her blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes) in the film Desh Deepak, and then as Princess Parizaad in Noor-e-Yaman. Nadia proved a huge hit with the audience, whereupon, considering her skills at performing circus and other stunts, J.B.H., by then joined by his younger brother Homi, chose to develop her into a star.[5] In 1967-68, when she was in her late 50s, she appeared in a James Bond spoof called Khiladi (The Player).[6]

Personal life[edit]

Nadia married Homi Wadia in 1961 and thus became Nadia Wadia.[7][8]


Nadia died on 9 January 1996, a day after her 88th birthday, due to age-related diseases.


In 1993, Nadia's great grandnephew, Riyad Vinci Wadia, made a documentary of her life and films, called Fearless: The Hunterwali Story. After watching the documentary at the 1993 Berlin International Film Festival, Dorothee Wenner, a German freelance writer, and film curator, wrote Fearless Nadia - The true story of Bollywood's original stunt queen, which was subsequently translated into English in 2005.[9] In Vishal Bharadwaj's Hindi film Rangoon, the role played by Kangana Ranaut was inspired by Nadia.[10]

On 8 January 2018, Google Displayed a doodle paying tribute to Fearless Nadia’s 110th Birthday. The artist commissioned for the doodle was the Indian artist Devaki Neogi.[11][12]

Filmography (selected)[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1935 Hunterwali (A Woman with a Whip) Princess Madhuri a.k.a. Hunterwali
1936 Miss Frontier Mail Savita a.k.a. Miss Frontier Mail
1938 Lutaru Lalna (Dacoit Damsel or The Dacoit Girl) Indira
1939 Punjab Mail
1940 Diamond Queen Madhurika
1941 Bambaiwali (The Girl from Bombay)
1942 Jungle Princess
1942 Muqabala Madhuri
1943 Hunterwali Ki Beti Princess Madhuri a.k.a. Hunterwali
1943 Mauj
1948 11 O'Clock Lakshmi
1949 Dhoomketu (The Comet)
1953 Jungle Ka Jawahar (Hero of the Forest) Mala
1956 Jungle Queen
1968 Khiladi


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mary Evans Wadia, aka Fearless Nadia Biography, tifr.res.in; accessed 22 November 2015.
  2. Hunterwali Ki Beti(1935) Archived 6 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine NFAI.
  3. Profile and images, memsaabstory.wordpress.com, feb 19 2008; accessed 22 November 2015.
  4. "Cinema: Female Interest". Outlook. 24 November 2003. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2010. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Shaikh Ayaz. "The woman with a Whip". OPEN: OPEN. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  6. Wenner, D.; Morrison, R. (2005). Fearless Nadia: the true story of Bollywood's original stunt queen. Penguin Books. ISBN 9780143032700. Retrieved 22 November 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. "International focus on 'Fearless Nadia'". The Hindu. March 16, 2008. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. Mary Evans Wadia, aka Fearless Nadia rsTIFR.
  9. "Wat a stunt!". The Hindu. 28 March 2005. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  10. "Rangoon—The story of the fiery 'Hunterwali'!". Newsx.com. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 20 Jan 2017.
  11. "Fearless Nadia's 110th Birthday". Google. 2018-01-08. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  12. Krishna, Navmi (2018-01-08). "Google Doodle celebrates Bollywood's Fearless Nadia". The Hindu. Retrieved 2018-01-09.

External links[edit]