Known for movies

Short Info

Date Of BirthDecember 25, 1936
DiedMay 25, 2005, City of Westminster, United Kingdom
FactEducated at Bombay University and trained in business administration in New York.

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.

General Info

Date Of BirthDecember 25, 1936
DiedMay 25, 2005, City of Westminster, United Kingdom
Place Of BirthMumbai, India
ProfessionActor, Author, Film director, Film producer, Screenwriter
EducationNew York University


ParentsNoormohamed Haji Abdul Rehman, Hazra Memon


AwardsPadma 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
NominationsAcademy 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
MoviesA 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...

Social profile links


1[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.


1Educated at Bombay University and trained in business administration in New York.
2Merchant 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.
3Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1998.
4The 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).
5Merchant and Ivory formed Merchant Ivory Productions in May 1961. Their first picture was The Householder (1963) in 1963.
6He met his future partner, James Ivory, at a screening of Ivory's documentary The Sword and the Flute (1959) in New York City.




Mata Hari2016co-producer - one segment
The White Countess2005producer
Le divorce2003producer
Refuge2002executive producer
Merci Docteur Rey2002executive producer
The Golden Bowl2000producer
A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries1998producer
Side Streets1998executive producer
Gaach1998Documentary executive producer
Surviving Picasso1996producer
Feast of July1995executive producer
Jefferson in Paris1995producer
Street Musicians of Bombay1994Documentary executive producer - uncredited
The Remains of the Day1993producer
Howards End1992producer
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe1991producer
Mr. & Mrs. Bridge1990producer
Slaves of New York1989producer
The Deceivers1988producer
The Perfect Murder1988executive producer
My Little Girl1986executive producer
A Room with a View1985producer
American Playhouse1985TV Series executive producer - 1 episode
The Bostonians1984producer
Heat and Dust1983producer
The Courtesans of Bombay1983TV Movie documentary producer
Jane Austen in Manhattan1980producer
The Europeans1979producer
Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures1978TV Movie producer
Sweet Sounds1976Documentary short producer
Autobiography of a Princess1975producer
The Wild Party1975producer
Mahatma and the Mad Boy1974Short producer
Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls1973Short documentary producer
Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization1972TV Movie documentary producer
Bombay Talkie1970producer
The Guru1969producer
The Householder1963producer
The Creation of Woman1961Short executive producer


The Mystic Masseur2001
Cotton Mary1999
The Proprietor1996
Lumière et compagnie1995Documentary segment "Merchant Ivory/Paris"
In Custody1994
The Courtesans of Bombay1983TV Movie documentary
Mahatma and the Mad Boy1974Short


Jefferson in Paris1995Tipoo Sultan's Ambassador
Slaves of New York1989Party Guest (uncredited)
Bombay Talkie1970Fate Machine Producer
The Guru1969Master Of Ceremonies
Shakespeare-Wallah1965Theater Owner (uncredited)
The Householder1963Extra (uncredited)


The Courtesans of Bombay1983TV Movie documentary a film made by


Wild Party: Hollywood Hoopla2004Video documentary short special thanks
Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids2004Documentary special thanks
Mrs Dalloway1997special thanks
Sweet Lorraine1987special thanks
Streetwise1984Documentary thanks
The Delhi Way1964Documentary thanks: assisted by


Building 'Howards End'2005Video documentary shortHimself
James Ivory2004TV Movie documentaryHimself
Bollywood Remixed - Das indische Kino erobert den Westen2004DocumentaryHimself
The Song of the Little Road2003Documentary
The Kumars at No. 422002TV SeriesHimself
Funny Turns2001TV Series documentaryHimself
Blind Loyalty, Hollow Honor: England's Fatal Flaw2001Video documentary shortHimself
The Remains of the Day: The Filmmaker's Journey2001Video documentary shortHimself
Cinema 31996TV SeriesHimself
Charlie Rose1995-1996TV SeriesHimself - Guest
About Jeanne Moreau1995TV Movie documentaryHimself (uncredited)
Lumière et compagnie1995DocumentaryHimself
In Ismail's Custody1994Video documentaryHimself
Love and Loyalty: The Making of 'The Remains of the Day'1993TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Media Show1988TV SeriesHimself
Breakfast Time1986TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Wandering Company1984TV Movie documentaryProducer

Archive Footage

The 78th Annual Academy Awards2006TV SpecialHimself - Memorial sequence
2006 Asian Excellence Awards2006TV SpecialHimself


Won Awards

2005Distinguished Director/Producer AwardCostume Designers Guild Awards
2001Joseph L. Mankiewicz Excellence in Filmmaking AwardDirector's View Film Festival
1998Lifetime Achievement AwardAsian American International Film Festival
1993BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest FilmHowards End (1992)
1987BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest FilmA Room with a View (1985)

Nominated Awards

2002Best FilmMar del Plata Film FestivalInternational CompetitionThe Mystic Masseur (2001)
1999Independent Spirit AwardIndependent Spirit AwardsBest FeatureA Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998)
1994OscarAcademy Awards, USABest PictureThe Remains of the Day (1993)
1994BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest FilmThe Remains of the Day (1993)
1994PGA AwardPGA AwardsOutstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion PicturesThe Remains of the Day (1993)
1993OscarAcademy Awards, USABest PictureHowards End (1992)
1993PGA AwardPGA AwardsOutstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion PicturesHowards End (1992)
1987OscarAcademy Awards, USABest PictureA Room with a View (1985)
1984BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest FilmHeat and Dust (1983)
1961OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Short Subject, Live Action SubjectsThe Creation of Woman (1961)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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