This collection of four posters represent the production of 'Fearless Nadia' films by Homi Wadia at Basant Pictures from 1943-1959. The poster for '11 O'Clock, made in 1948 demonstrates Homi Wadia's successful strategy of formulaic low budget film production appealing to his audience through comedic high action stunts, with Fearless Nadia as the star. The poster design similarly used standard imagery that was easily recognisable by a diverse multilingual audience.
Australian born Mary Evans, more famously known as Fearless Nadia, while not the first Indian film heroine, nor even the first white woman to appear in Indian motion pictures, was the first to successfully challenge traditional female roles in Indian movies through her energetic stunt films. As a result she was the most well known and successful female film star in India through the 1930s-1940s and assisted in making Wadia Movietone the most successful Bombay film studio by the end of the 1930s. Her clarion call of 'Heyyyyyyyyyyyyy' is to this day instantly recognised by generations of Indian film goers.
Nadia's image is a complicated and multilayered construct combining elements of the Hollywood stunt queen Pearl White, (and by implication the whole stunt genre), the white memsaab, the legendary Indian warrior woman (virangana) and the modern urban sophisticated woman from Bombay (Bombaiwali). This persona allowed Nadia to wear both western style masculine clothing and Indian saris, be erotically charged and yet sexless, display her physical prowess and fighting skills and be a force for moral order, fighting the bad guys in a thinly veiled allusion to the nationalist movement. She was equally at ease in urban and rural environments and was empowered not crushed by the technological progress of a modern India. It was these elements which allowed her to be accepted as an Indian heroine by her audience.
This poster collection also represents an increasingly rare tradition of non digital poster design and production which has all but died out in India.
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