For several years here at Balladeer’s Blog I have been trying to track down, watch and review all of the film versions of Hunterwali (Whip-wielding Woman), Bollywood Cinema’s butt-kicking masked female heroine. Often glibly dismissed as a female Zorro, there is much more cultural context to the Hunterwali figure – contextual significance that goes beyond the particular time period of each film version.
Thus far I have been able to watch the 1935 original, which starred the actress billed as “Fearless Nadia” in India, and the 1988 Hunterwali. I have had no luck tracking down the 1959, 1972, 1977 and 2017 movie versions. Nor have I been able to buy the 1943 film, Hunterwali Ki Beti (Hunterwali’s Daughter), the very first sequel movie in Indian entertainment history.
The basics of the Hunterwali story involve Princess Madhuri adopting a masked, whip-wielding and stunt-riding identity to combat the many injustices inflicted on the kingdom by her father’s evil Vazier Ranamal. That villain even imprisons the king and lusts after Madhuri, little realizing she is really the swashbuckling “protector of the poor and punisher of evildoers” called Hunterwali. Continue reading