Bombay-born Ismail Merchant, one of Hollywood’s top producers who mastered the period-piece genre in a 44-year filmmaking partnership with James Ivory, was buried today in his home town.
“It was ... his wish to be buried in India, and he wanted to be buried near his mum,” said production co-ordinator Jaya Ramachandran, who worked with Merchant for 10 years.
Merchant, 68, died on Wednesday at a London hospital. He had recently undergone surgery for abdominal ulcers, according to Indian television reports. He was unmarried and had no children.
Relatives and friends gathered at his ancestral home in downtown Bombay to pay their last respects. Several actors from the Indian film industry, who had worked with Merchant, also attended the funeral.
The Merchant-Ivory brand of costume drama spans some 40 films from The Householder, a 1963 film set in India, to Le Divorce in 2003, an art house hit. Their films won six Academy Awards, including the best-actress Oscar for Emma Thompson for the 1992 film Howards End.
They usually teamed up with screen writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala for movies filled with lush panoramas of the English and Indian countryside and told riveting stories of class, manners, desire and love.