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Ismail Merchant (1936 -- 2005)

Born and raised in Bombay, Ismail Merchant will be known forever for his filmmaking partnership with the American director, James Ivory and the German-born screenwriter, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

In 1958, aspiring to be a filmmaker, Merchant left Bombay to study for an MBA at New York University. Across in Los Angeles he first met Ivory, who had a deep affection for India and its culture.

In 1961, they formed Merchant-Ivory Productions, which would make some 40 films over as many years. With the release of Shakespeare Wallah in 1965, they came to international attention and forged an exquisite reputation as makers of acclaimed period films including Howard's End, Room With A View, Heat and Dust and The Remains of the Day.

They supported and influenced the early careers of Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Rupert Graves and James Wilby, whilst also persuading some of the cream of Hollywood to star in their productions.

Merchant was a passionate yet efficient producer, possessing a sharp business mind coupled with a charming, familial manner. He also had a passion for Indian cooking and entertaining. He died in London, aged 68, after at a short illness.