Riyad Wadia (1967 – 2003), the grandson of J.B.H. and Hilla Wadia, was a film buff right from childhood, learning all he could about his grandfather’s studio and work, along with the rich history of the Wadia family itself.
Riyad eventually studied filmmaking at Charles Sturt University in Australia, before returning to Bombay to resurrect the Wadia Movietone banner with a groundbreaking documentary Fearless: The Hunterwali Story (1993) on the life and times of his great-aunt Fearless Nadia a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans. Feted by Time magazine and other international publications, and celebrated at a range of prestigious film festivals globally, the award-winning documentary introduced the legendary creation of J.B.H. Wadia to a new generation of cinemagoers in India and around the world.
An LGBTIQ rights activist, Riyad’s next film was equally groundbreaking – BOMgAY (1996), India’s first gay-themed film which, in 13 short minutes, paints a vivid, frank image of the realities many gay men faced in the Bombay and India of the time.
Steeped in film history, Riyad lovingly collated the Wadia Movietone archives for future generations to draw upon, and in his private capacity collected and curated as many posters, booklets, and other Indian film memorabilia as he could – primarily pertaining to Wadia Movietone but also representing other studios - from purveyors in Lamington Road and other noted cinematic inventory spots across Bombay.
The Prinseps tribute to Wadia Movietone highlights items from the Riyad Wadia Collection, preserved by his mother and brother after his untimely death at the age of 36.