Thursday, December 30, 2010
J.B.H.Wadia-Humanist, Film producer
Humanist, Producer of Stunt Pictures
The wall Posters of J.B.H.Wadia’s Nadia (1908-1986) became attractive when I was
studying for Inter (1954) in Guntur, A.C.College.
That was a big fascination in those days.
Though the movie ‘Hunterwali’ was released in 1935 and ‘Miss Frontier Mail’ in
1936, in the cities of Andhra they were screened twenty years later only.
Nadia’s picture was exhibited primarily in the wall posters, showing her
holding a hunter, wearing black sunglasses and tight pants which thrilled youngsters.
Heroin Nadia rides on a horse racing beside a train, suddenly jumps off the horse
onto the train, beats the villain, hops back onto the horse and rides away.
All those were scenes which make the audience jump in their seats.
It was all a success. Plenty of money flowed in.
Hindi Stunt movies came 30 years earlier than Vithalacharya’s Stunt Telugu movies. Nadia’s
movies made students and youth go into frenzy those days.
By 1943 Nadia acted as a romantic tragedy heroin in the movie ‘Mauje’.She was a
foreigner. Yet, she acted as the first Indian heroin to act in stunt movies. Later she
settled in India and married.
J.B.H.Wadia’s role was pivotal in all this. His studios by name ‘Movie Tones’ were
in Bombay. His son was running the studio after his death. The credit goes to Wadia.for recognizing
Nadia’s talent and introducing her to the cine field. He saw her and approved of her
as an eligible candidate for movies when she was 20 years of age. Gradually she got
close to Wadia’s family and wanted to marry his brother. But his mother, an orthodox
Parsi, did not approve of it.Nadia waited until after her death in 1960 and married
I met Nadia, around 1970 through Wadia. She stopped working in movies by that time.
Around 1970 I got acquainted with J.B.Homi Wadia. He was a student of
M.N.Roy. That brought us both together. Wadia, who played a pivotal role in ‘Radical
Humanist Movement’ as a follower and close companion to M.N.Roy.
He wrote a small book with a nice title - ‘The Man’ about his attachment with Roy
(M.N. Roy, the man, an incomplete Royana 1983). Hidaythulla, Vice -President of
India released the book.
He collected rare photos of M.N.Roy. Casa Da Vinci was the name of Wadia’s
Bombay residence. Roy couple were staying there and enjoying the hospitality of
Wadia. He extended good hosting to M.N.Roy in Bombay. Wadia was very courteous
Having relations with Wadia as M.N.Roy’s admirer/fan, I invited him to
Hyderabad. Meetings were conducted on his arrival. He narrated his experiences in an
Hyderabad Central University Office used to be in Abids Centre. Once,
when Wadia came to Hyderabad on our invitation the meeting was held there.
Abburi Ramakrishna Rao, A.L.NarasimhaRao, Avula Samba Siva Rao, Jasti Jawaharlal,
N.K.Acharya, A.S.wadwalkar, Alapati RavindraNath, Alam khund Miri and the like
participated with enthusiasm in that get-together. Wadia delivered a speech. We
queried about his movies and especially about Nadia.He answered and told many
things patiently. That was a memorable experience.
Wadia mentioned a plan for a documentary about Roy. But it has not seen the light.
However, I never imagined during my Inter days as I
watched Nadia’s movies that I would meet Wadia. I got close tohim, corresponding with him, meeting him
whenever he was in Bombay was good experience. He was a film producer who took
care of not showing religious blind faiths in his movies.
His son’s wish to produce a documentary on Roy has not come into action as yet.
Since Wadia was a Humanist, other than stunts and thrills he did not allow
superstitions in his movies.
At last a documentary on M.N.Roy was filmed in the Bombay studio.
Wadia was close with V.B.Karnik, V.M.Tarkunde, G.D.Parekh, Indumathi,
G.R.Dalvi, and A.B.Shah.
I was introduced to Wadia around 1970 as earlier mentioned. But my desire since the student days, to see her and talk to
her if possible, had been fulfilled.
Her original name was Mary Anne Evan. Nadia was the name taken in India.
Mother was Greek, father was Welsh.
Mary Anne Evans came to India at the age of 5 years. Along with the father she
trained in horse riding, Ballet and worked in Jarcho circus.
About 1930, Wadia eyed, invited her and moulded her as heroin. She bid good-bye
to the cine field from 1970 with the movie ‘Ek Nanni Munni Ladaki’. She settled well
in a Parsi family. She was soft spoken. She died in 1996.
J.B.H.Wadia was an extraordinary film maker, director and Humanist.
He was M.N.Roy’s follower. He used to boast as Royist..He worked in ‘Radical
Democratic Party’ established by Roy. When Roy came to Bombay he used to stay in
his house. A refined film maker. Conducted film field and politics separately.