Described as “fearless” and hailed as the “original Bollywood stuntwoman” of the 1930s, actress Mary Ann Evans would have been 110 today.
In her honour, Google is changing its logo in India to a doodle, or illustration, of her and action movie posters of old-time Hindi cinema. This is her story:
- Born in 1908 in Perth, Australia, Marry Ann Evans moved to India with her family, where she later become a star of the Bollywood cinema.
- After learning stunts as a circus performer in Peshawar, Evans joined a touring dance troupe in Bombay, and then made it to the Zarco Circus that led her to perform in movies.
- Evans changed her name to Nadia on the advice of an Armenian fortune teller, and soon after found her winning formula: Fearless Nadia, the action heroine.
- Her first lead role in a movie was in the film Hunterwali, in 1935. Fearless Nadia blasted onto the screen performing all of her own stunts.
- Over the years, Nadia performed in over 38 films, swinging from chandeliers, leaping from speeding trains, and even taming lions.
- Throughout her career, Nadia stood out as a talented actress who often portrayed a woman fighting injustice, a theme that was popular among the audience during the last leg of the British rule.
- Dorothee Wenner, author of the book Fearless Nadia: The True Story of Bollywood’s Original Stunt Queen, refers to her as a “radical feminist actress”.
- She explains that her popularity reached places like Greece, Italy and France, and in that way she became India’s first crossover actress.
- In late 1960’s, she also appeared in a James Bond spoof called Khiladi (The Players).
- In 1993, Riyad Vinci Wadia, Nadia’s great-grandnephew, made a documentary film on her life and career, called Fearless: The Hunterwali Story.