Kangana Ranaut’s character in “Rangoon”, Ms Julia, was lauded as a brave and feisty woman who smashed 1940s India’s social restrictions. She performed dangerous stunts, was a pro with knives and did what was only expected of men at that time – be a brave hero.
Here’s the thing though, Kangana’s character wasn’t entirely fictional. In fact, it was very heavily based on the work of Fearless Nadia – India’s first stuntwoman. Nadia, who was named Mary Ann at birth, moved to Bombay in 1913 at the age of 5 when her (British soldier) father was stationed there.
Trained in horse riding, gymnastics, tennis, tap dance and ballet, she changed her name to Nadia in her mid-twenties and went off to join a circus and travelled through the country. She was first cast as a slave girl in Jamshed Boman Homi Wadia’s “Desh Deepak” (1933), but it was in 1935 with “Hunterwali”, that she became a massive hit.
Nadia went on to deliver successive hits in the coming years till 1968, with her final movie “Khiladi”. Nadia died in 1996, at the age of 88.
Take a look at how this badass woman fought not just villains on-screen, but patriarchy and gender stereotypes off it!