Riyad Vinci Wadia

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Riyad Vinci Wadia
Riyad Vinci Wadia.jpg
Born (1967-09-19)19 September 1967
Bombay, India
Died 30 November 2003(2003-11-30) (aged 36)
Bombay, India
Cause of death Tuberculosis, HIV
Nationality Indian
Occupation Filmmaker
Known for BomGay
Home town Bombay
Religion Parsi
Parent(s) Vinci (Father)
Nargis (Mother)

Riyad Vinci Wadia (19 September 1967 – 30 November 2003) was an Indian independent filmmaker from Bombay, known for his film, Bomgay (1996) which is regarded as one of the very first gay themed movies from India.[1] Born into the filmmaking Wadia family, he inherited the production company Wadia Movietone which is known for the Fearless Nadia movies which are one of their kind in the superwoman genre[2] when the other movies of their time usually portrayed women in submissive roles. Wadia is also known for his documentary on Nadia, Fearless: The Hunterwali Story.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Riyad was born in Bombay to Nargis and Vinci Wadia, son of JBH Wadia who is one of the forerunners of stunt films in India. The latter's production firm, Wadia Movietone, which Riyad would later inherit, launched into Bollywood, the Australian actress Mary Evans who is known more popularly as 'Fearless Nadia'.[4] Riyad did his schooling in Bombay and later went to Australia for a course in filmmaking. Riyad was openly gay and so is his brother Roy Wadia, who worked for the World Health Organization.[5]


Nicknamed as 'The Turk' of the Indian Independent cinema, Riyad's films are still being referred to in many books about Bollywood, be it gay themes in Indian Cinema, or the ones about JBH Wadia.[6] His first documentary, Fearless : The Hunterwali Story, which is based on the life of Nadia Wadia, got screened at over 50 international film festivals,[7] such as The Berlin International Film Festival (1994)[8] and The London Film Festival (1993).[7] The short film, BomGay, with shooting locations such as the gay cruising spots of Victoria Terminus urinals and the Bombay local tracks along which people defecate, was described as "part Bollywood, part Genet". The film explored the underground gay subculture of Bombay and marked the entry of queer themes into Indian Cinema.[9] The film had a limited release in India, thanks to its explicit content.[10] It got screened in a number of international film festivals and finds mention in the research works on the history of queer themes in Indian Cinema as the first queer themed film from India.[11][12][13]

Final years[edit]

Riyad tested positive for HIV in 1995. Though he was quite capable of affording the then expensive HIV medication, he refused to be on any kind of dosage. He left India shortly after the production of BomGay, supporting himself with petty jobs in New York and writing an article or two for The New Indian Express. Things got difficult post 9/11, with not much jobs available, forcing him to get back to Bombay. Riyad was lost to stomach tuberculosis on 30 November 2003, in Bombay.[5] He was then in the process of generating funds for his supposed first full-length film (unfinished), Naked Rain, based on R. Raj Rao's novel, Boyfriend. "He made a very important contribution to the gay cause and was one of the central figures to begin the broad-basing of the gay movement in India," says gay activist Ashok Row Kavi on Riyad.[14] The Riyad Wadia award for Indian emerging filmmakers was instituted in 2011 for films that win the competition section in Kashish, an international queer film festival based in Bombay.[15]


  • Films
    • Fearless : The Hunterwali Story (1993)
    • Bomgay (1996)
    • A Mermaid called Aida (1996)


  1. ^ Sarma, Udaysanker (28 August 2010). "'The secrets of a boy's hostel'". The New Indian Express. 
  2. ^ Mishra, Ambarish (8 May 2011). "'Once upon a Bal Gandharva'". The Times of India. 
  3. ^ Jain, Madhu (14 August 2008). "'The return of Nadia Hunterwali'". DNA. 
  4. ^ "'Surat's Wadias created Fearless Nadia'". The Times of India. 2 October 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Wadia, Roy (Fall 2009). "'My brother, Riyad'". FEZANA.  External link in |work= (help)
  6. ^ "'Google Books : Riyad Wadia'". Google Books.  External link in |work= (help)
  7. ^ a b Shukla, Archna (6 October 2002). "'Screen saver'". The Economic Times. 
  8. ^ Malik, Amita (5 June 2005). "'The one and only Hunterwali'". The Hindu. 
  9. ^ Ghosh, Shohini (30 May 2005). "'The Closet is ajar'". Outlook. 
  10. ^ Mallik Choudhuri, Sucheta (2009). "'Transgressive territories : queer space in Indian fiction and film'". Iowa Research Online.  External link in |work= (help)
  11. ^ Morris, Gary. "QFilmistan". Bright Lights Film Journal. 
  12. ^ Knews (30 May 2020). "'SASOD Film Festival opens Tuesday'". Kaieteur News.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Sood, Karan. "Bomgay". Pink Pages. 
  14. ^ "'Tribute : Riyad Wadia'". EGO. 19 August 2005. 
  15. ^ Businessofcinema.com team (23 May 2011). "'Shyam Benegal announces Kashish – India's first Queer Film Festival'". Businessofcinema.com.  External link in |work= (help)
  16. ^ Wadia, Riyad. "'Long Life of a Short Film: The Making of BOMgAY'". PlanetOut. 
  17. ^ Wadia, Riyad (23 December 1998). "'Set me free'". The New Indian Express. 
  18. ^ Wadia, Riyad (24 November 1999). "'What do you know?'". The New Indian Express. 

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