J.B.H. Wadia (1901-1986), the founder of Wadia Movietone, was the great-grandson of Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia (1702-1774) of Surat, Gujarat, of the Wadia line of shipbuilders who founded the Wadia Group in 1736.
Lovji Wadia’s success in securing shipbuilding and dock construction contracts in Bombay with the British East India Company resulted in that city, now Mumbai, transforming into one of the most strategic ports in Asia.
The Wadia Company adopted a ship as its logo, which also served as the family crest, incorporated into the Wadia Movietone logo as well. The world’s oldest surviving ship is a Wadia creation, the HMS Trincomalee, originally launched in 1817 and now restored as a museum ship in Hartlepool, England.
Beyond maritime activities, the Wadia family constructed prominent Zoroastrian fire temples, including the Wadiaji Atash Behram at Princess Street in Bombay, and established charities and foundations that serve the Parsi community to this very day.
Wadia Movietone’s first studio was housed at the ancestral Lovji Castle, eventually sold to V. Shantaram who transformed it into Rajkamal Kalamandir, allowing Wadia Movietone to expand its studios on a vast plot of land acquired in Chembur, not far from Raj Kapoor (R.K.) Studios. J.B.H. Wadia’s younger brother Homi Wadia eventually founded his own banner of Basant Studios there too, with both siblings working side by side well into the 1970s.