Fearless Nadia: Know about Bollywood's Jaanbaaz stunt queen who inspired Kangana Ranaut's role in Rangoon

Fearless Nadia, the yesteryear actor who is said to have inspired Kangana Ranaut's character Julia in Rangoon, was fearless by nature

Renowned filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj’s World War II flick Rangoon will hit the theatres on Friday. It is a romantic war drama set in the era before India’s independence. It has an ensemble cast comprising Shahid Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, and Kangana Ranaut.

Shahid plays a soldier Nawab Malik whereas Saif essays the role of a millionaire Rusi Billimoria, but it is Kangana Ranaut whose role has garnered most of the spotlight. The National Award winning actor plays an actor named Miss Julia. It is believed that Kangana’s character is inspired from Mary Ann Evans, a yesteryear actor popularly known as Fearless Nadia. She is known for her titular role of a masked crusader in 1935 action flick Hunterwali.

Kangana, known for her bold and outspoken avatar in real life, has done full justice to the whip-lashing Australian-born diva. Most of you might not know who Nadia was.

Born Mary Ann Evans in Perth, Australia, she came to India with her father at the age of five in 1913. After working as a salesgirl in stores belonging to the armed forces, Evans was introduced to Hindi cinema by JBH Wadia. She made her cinematic debut in Desh Deepak as a slave girl and there was no looking back for her. She acted in films like Hunterwali, Miss Frontier Mail, Muqabla, Noor-e-Yaman and others.

But Nadia was more than her films. Despite the availability of safety equipment these days, very few actors prefer to do stunts by themselves. But as her screen name suggests, she used to do all the stunts by herself. You might say that duplicates were rarely in action those days.

In an interview to filmmaker Girish Karnad for Scroll, Nadia recalled an incident when she had to do a stunt with a lion in the film Jungle Princess. Initially, she had refused to go near the lion. But the film’s director Homi Wadia insisted that she do the scene. A cage was set up in the studio and the bars were covered with foilage to resemble a forest. The action sequence involved four lions. Terrifying isn’t it?

When the filming began, a lioness named Sundari jumped over Nadia’s head. But it got stuck in the cage bars which incited the other lions. The sequence was shot without major hassles.

Whether Kangana’s role is really inspired from Fearless Nadia or not, it will be seen when the film hits the theatres on 24 February. Meanwhile, catch this popular song ‘Bloody Hell’ from Rangoon.

And there’s another popular song from the film featuring Kangana aka Julia.

And last but not the least, here’s a trailer of the much-awaited film.

Also read: Copyright tussle: Not one, Wadias claim 19 scenes of Kangana Ranaut in Rangoon are lifted from Hunterwali