Florence Ezekiel Nadira (5 December 1932 – 9 February 2006), commonly known as Nadira, was an actress in Indian cinema. She is best remembered for her performance in films in the 1950s and 1960s such as Shree 420 (1955), Pakeezah (1972) and Julie (1975), which won her Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award.
Nadira was born to a Baghdadi Jewish family. She is survived by two brothers, one of whom lives in the USA and another in Israel. Nadira was introduced to the film industry by Sardar Begum, wife of film director Mehboob Khan, in the film Aan.
Nadira rose to cinematic prominence with the 1952 film Aan with her role as a Rajput princess. She did a bold scene in the movie. In 1955, she played a rich socialite named Maya in Shree 420. She played lead roles in a number of films such as Dil Apna Prit Parayee, Hanste Zakhm, Amar Akbar Anthony and Pakeezah. She was often cast as a temptress or vamp, and played opposite the chaste heroines then favored by the Bollywood film industry.
Nadira won a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, her role as Julie’s mother Margaret, ‘Maggie’, in the 1975 film Julie. During the 1980s and 1990s, she entered a new phase of her career, playing elderly women as a supporting actress. Her last role was in the film Josh (2000). In her longtime career, because of her western attire, her character in most of her memorable movies was Christian or Anglo-Indian. One notable exception can be found in the movie Aan, opposite Dilip Kumar, where she played a Rajput princess. Also, in Shree 420 there was no religious affiliation shown explicitly: her character was named Maya, which is not necessarily a Christian name. In fact, Maya is a quite common name in India, coming from the Sanskrit word for illusion.
She was well paid for her efforts and was one of the first Indian actresses to own a Rolls-Royce.
Nadira was married twice: she first married an Urdu-language poet and filmmaker named Naqshab, then she married a man whom she publicly called a gold-digger. This marriage lasted only a week.
For the last part of her life, she lived alone in Mumbai, as many of her relatives had moved to Israel, staying for the last three years in her condominium with only a housekeeper.
On 9 February 2006, Nadira died at the age of 73 at the Bhatia Hospital in Tardeo, Mumbai, India, following a prolonged illness.