In 1935, a film titled Hunterwali created history in Hindi cinema. It was the industry’s first movie featuring a female action star, and the little-known lead actress – Australia-born Mary Evans – shot to fame as stuntwoman ‘Fearless Nadia’.
On November 22, Nadia – who died in Mumbai in 1996 – will be revived on screen in a unique theatrical performance called Fearless Nadia, organised as part of the ongoing Indo-Australian cultural festival, Oz Fest.
The show will feature a silent screening of Nadia’s 1940 film Diamond Queen, accompanied by a live Australian orchestra directed by musician Ben Walsh. Fearless Nadia will be staged at Liberty Cinema at Marine Lines. “Nadia is an icon for both India and Australia. She called India her home and immersed herself in Indian culture,” said Walsh, who first came across Nadia when he met Roy Wadia, grandson of filmmaker Jamshed Wadia who discovered and directed Nadia.
The two collaborated and came up with the concept of the Fearless Nadia show, for which Walsh put together a band of 13 different musicians to create the Orkestra of the Underground. The band includes Indian classical musicians such as Aneesh Pradhan (tabla), Sudhir Nayak (harmonium) and Sangeet Mishra (sarangi). “Although the score is inspired by the original music of Diamond Queen, it is like new-world music, with a lot of improvisation,” said Walsh.
The Fearless Nadia performance will be preceded by the screening of excerpts from Fearless: The Hunterwali Story, a 1993 documentary on Nadia made by Riyad Wadia, Roy’s late brother.