Ismail Merchant was an Indian-born film producer and director. He worked closely with director James Ivory, with whom he formed the production company Merchant Ivory Productions in 1961. Merchant produced or co-produced over 40 films during his career, including such notable works as A Room with a View (1985), Howards End (1992), and The Remains of the Day (1993).
Merchant was born Ismail Noormohamed Abdul Rehman in Bombay, India, on December 25, 1936. His father, Noormohamed Abdul Rehman, was a businessman, and his mother, Alama Merchant, was a homemaker. Merchant had two sisters, Razia and Farida. He was educated at St. Xavier’s College in Bombay and later attended the New York University Film School.
Merchant began his career in the film industry working as an assistant director on the 1957 Indian film Mother India. He later moved to England, where he worked as a production assistant on the 1959 British film Room at the Top. In 1961, he teamed up with director James Ivory to form Merchant Ivory Productions.
The company’s first film, The Householder, was released in 1963. Over the next four decades, Merchant Ivory produced or co-produced more than 40 films, including such notable works as A Room with a View (1985), Howards End (1992), and The Remains of the Day (1993). Merchant also directed several films, including The Deceivers (1988) and In Custody (1993).
Merchant was married twice. His first wife was actress Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, with whom he had three children. His second wife was French actress Isabelle Adjani. Merchant died of a heart attack on May 25, 2005, at the age of 68.
Date Of Birth
December 25, 1936
May 25, 2005, City of Westminster, United Kingdom
Place Of Birth
Actor, Author, Film director, Film producer, Screenwriter
New York University
Noormohamed Haji Abdul Rehman, Hazra Memon
Padma Bhushan, BAFTA Award for Best Film, BAFTA Fellowship, Independent Spirit Award for Best International Film, National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Urdu, Costume Designers Guild Award for Distinguished Director or Producer Award
Academy Award for Best Picture, Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action), Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature
A Room with a View, Howards End, The Remains of the Day, Maurice, Shakespeare Wallah, The Householder, Heat and Dust, The White Countess, The Europeans, The Bostonians, In Custody, The Golden Bowl, Bombay Talkie, The Divorce, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, Surviving Picasso, Cotton Mary, The Mystic Masseur, J...
[on Denholm Elliott] He was an all-giving person, full of life. ... He had an affection and feeling for other actors, which is very unusual in our business.
Educated at Bombay University and trained in business administration in New York.
Merchant personally selected and groomed Kai Wong as a producer in the New York headquarters of Merchant-Ivory after he was impressed by an literary article Kai Wong wrote in Manhattan, which created cinematic narrative on paper.
Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1998.
The National Portrait Gallery in London has paintings of Ismail and his partners James Ivory and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala - even though they all live in New York City and none of them are English. (Ruth is German/Polish, Ismail is Indian, and James is American).
Merchant and Ivory formed Merchant Ivory Productions in May 1961. Their first picture was The Householder (1963) in 1963.