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Exporting Perilous PaulinePearl White and the Serial Film Craze$
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Marina Dahlquist

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037689

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037689.001.0001

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Not Quite (Pearl) White

Not Quite (Pearl) White

Fearless Nadia, Queen of the Stunts

Chapter:
(p.160) Chapter 6 Not Quite (Pearl) White
Source:
Exporting Perilous Pauline
Author(s):

Rosie Thomas

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037689.003.0007

This chapter examines the construction of one form of modern Indian femininity in the late colonial period by focusing on the intriguing figure of Fearless Nadia, aka Mary Evans. Billed as the “Indian Pearl White,” Evans seems to have been the personification of the “Heroine of a Thousand Stunts” but without her gentler qualities. This chapter first provides an overview of the Fearless Nadia serial films before discussing the films of brothers Homi and Jamshed Wadia, including Diamond Queen. It then analyzes Nadia within the film production context of 1930s Bombay and how the Wadia brothers dealt with her whiteness/otherness and negotiated the points of tension in her image. It also considers the extent to which Nadia copied White and other Hollywood stunt stars, suggesting that this was a form of colonial mimicry in reverse that provided potent currency in the nationalist era. The chapter shows that, despite her whiteness, Fearless Nadia became part of the nationalist movement during the late colonial period in films that many considered anti-British.

Keywords:   whiteness, Pearl White, serial films, Fearless Nadia, Mary Evans, stunts, Indian femininity, Diamond Queen, colonial mimicry, nationalist movement

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