Blonde, blue-eyed and fearless
By Prashanti Ganesh | Published: 27th November 2012 11:13 AM |
In the 1930s, when Bollywood was still in the process of discovering itself in its new avatar (Silent films were just beginning to make their way out), a blue-eyed and apparently fearless blonde took Mumbai by storm. She nonchalantly carried men over her shoulders, dueled them with panache, rode horses, jumped from one building top to another and effortlessly played with lions. Nadia, or ‘Fearless’ Nadia as she came to be known, was definitely not India’s first stunt woman, but the first to be as confidently brave about the job as she was.
Celebrating this memorable stunt woman in all her glory was the tribute show ‘Fearless Nadia’, that took place at the Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall on Sunday, as part of Oz Fest, which is Australia’s ongoing festival in India. A movie clip in which author Shobhaa De introduced the vivacious Nadia, that included small segments of interviews with the stunt woman, was played before the formal start of the event.
Composed and written by Australian musician Ben Walsh, the Indian premiere of the tribute show took the audience on a musical journey through one of Nadia’s most remembered Bollywood hits — Diamond Queen. The film, written by Jamshed ‘JBH’ Wadia, the founder of Wadia Movietone, also known to be a staunch supporter of women emancipation and empowerment aptly encompasses most of Nadia’s qualities of strong characteristics and feminist traits.
Led by Walsh, the compositions were performed by Orkestra of the Underground, a band from Australia and India, including tabla player Aneesh Pradhan. They played everything from the saxophone, sousaphone and banjo, to forget the impressive percussion instruments, which were harmoniously juxtaposed with the shehnai, tabla and sarangi.
As the musicians dramatically took the audience through scenes where Nadia fights off town rogues, saves lives, braves waterfalls and even romances a bandit, the show seemed as engaging as it was supposed to be for the first hour or so. As the 1940 black and white subtitled movie progressed on the big screen behind the musicians on stage, and as Nadia kept doing what she was best known for, the live music began to sound a tad too monotonous and repetitive.
The only reason why those who chose to stay back and watch the entire show, if not for the fact that they wanted to relive the days of Fearless Nadia, could have only been for the infectious enthusiasm and energy of the extremely talented musicians.
Walsh’s production was not only as fearless as the heroine they were paying tribute to, but also as tedious as some of the films she starred in, which will only grow on you or you need to have a special taste for.
Oz Fest is on till February 5, with a number of cultural activities lined up. For details and schedules, visit www.ozfestindia.com