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Published in the 16-30 June 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Ismail Merchant 

The Milli Gazette Online 

Renowned film producer-director Ismail Merchant died on May 25 at the age of 68 in London. He was unwell for sometime and had underwent surgery for abdominal ulcers and died of bursting of the ulcers. Mumbai born Merchant made 40 films with James Ivory, an American, including A Room with a View, The Remains of the Day, Howards End and Heat and Dust. They won six Oscars after their partnership began in 1961 with German scriptwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. 

Their films helped revive audiencesí taste for well-made, emotionally literate period dramas. In an interview with a news agency last year, Merchant said that Merchant-Ivory films worked because they captured great stories, "it should be a good story, speak about a time and place that is permanent... it should capture something wonderful with some great characters, whether it is set in past or in the future."

He was buried next to his mother Hazarabai at a quiet South Mumbai cemetery according to his wish. He is survived by his four sisters Sherbanoo Kapadia, Rashida Bootwala, Shahida Retiwala and Ruksana Khan and all of them live together in Mumbai. Merchant spoke with his sisters frequently and often solved household problems over the phone. His nephew Nayeem Hafizka who started his film career as an assistant with Merchantís well-known movie A Room with A View said, "He attended to each member of the crew. If a light technician were running a fever, he would bring him medicine", said Hafizka.

Three of Merchantís projects will now be completed by him. An Argentinian film, one set in Iran and an Indian production starring Abhishek Bachchan and Saif Ali Khan. 

Merchant completed his education at the New York University and went to establish himself in Europe and the US as a filmmaker. Despite being a British citizen, Mechant held on to his Indian passport and visited Mumbai once every year.

Merchant was also a renowned chef and an author of a number of books on cuisine including Ismail Merchantís Indian Cuisine, Ismail Merchantís Florence, Ismail Merchantís Passionate Meals and Ismail Merchantís Paris: Filming and Feasting in France.

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