She was also called as Fearless Nadia or Nadia- The Hunterwali. Born as Mary Ann Evans in Australia, she came to India when she was 5 years old. By the time Mary reached her mid-twenties, she had trained herself in horse riding, ballet, tap dance, and gymnastics. She is most remembered as the masked, cloaked adventurer in Hunterwali, released in 1935, which was one of the earliest female-lead Indian films.
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.
Born on January 8, 1908, she wanted to be a singer and dancer and learned Scottish dances from her father and Greek songs from her mother. She went on to sing in church choirs in school but even as a young girl, she was different. While her classmates played with fluffy soft toys, she spent most of her time with a pony that became her best friend. She also spent time learning fishing, hunting, horse riding and everything normally considered audacious for girls of her age at the time.
Her father died when she was only 15 so she started to look for a job. Nadia tried her hand at several other jobs. From working in a secretarial position, traveling as a theatre artist to performing as a trapeze artist at a circus, she did it all. She also worked hard to train herself as a gymnast and her graceful cartwheels, daredevil stunts and charming presence soon won her a lot of fans.
Eruch Kanga, a cinema owner from Lahore, spotted her in performance and suggested her name to J. B. H. Wadia and Homi Wadia, the brothers who owned a major production house called Wadia Movietone. Initially, she was given a small role in two of their upcoming movies, Desh Deepak and Noor-e-Yaman. Her cameos as a slave girl in the former and as a princess in the latter were well-liked by the audience.
Her big break came with the 1935 film Hunterwali. This movie was the first one to showcase Nadia’s fearlessness, her athletic prowess, and her affinity for the stunt genre. The audience loved her. Over the next decade, Nadia went on to star in over 50 films, performing her own stunts in every single film. She went on to achieve great stardom and became one of the highest-paid actresses in the Indian film industry during this period.
Nadia married Homi Wadia in 1961 and thus became Nadia Wadia In 1967-68 when she was in her late 50s, she appeared in a James Bond spoof called Khiladi (The Player). That was her last film.
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. She died on 9th Jan 1996 due to age-related diseases.