Mystic Massuer



About the Filmmaker

The Night Out



Ismail Merchant (Director)
Although Ismail Merchant was born in Bombay, he has lived and worked for most of his life in the West, completing his education at New York University where he earned his Masters Degree in Business Administration. Merchant's first film was a theatrical short, THE CREATION OF WOMEN, which was nominated in 1961 for an Academy Award and was an official entry from the United States in the Cannes Film Festival that same year. While en route to the Festival, Merchant met James Ivory, who agreed to form a partnership, Merchant Ivory Productions, to make English-language theatrical features in India for the international market. It was not only the visual beauty and charm of India that attracted Merchant, but also the opportunity to finance his films with funds from frozen Rupee accounts of major American distributors. These accounts contained distribution proceeds that the Indian government would not allow to be repatriated, but which could be utilized under an agreement to make films in India. Thus, THE HOUSEHOLDER was Merchant's first feature and first Indian film to be distributed worldwide by a major American company, Columbia Pictures. It was followed by more Indian features, all in some way funded wholly or in part by an American studio: SHAKESPEARE WALLAH (1965), THE GURU (1969), and BOMBAY TALKIE (1970).

For over thirty years, Merchant Ivory Productions has endured as one of the most productive collaborations in cinema, bringing forth such films as HOWARDS'S END, THE GOLDEN BOWL, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, A ROOM WITH A VIEW, MR. & MRS. BRIDGE, A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES, HEAT AND DUST, THE BOSTONIANS and THE EUROPEANS. Merchant's previous film as Director/Producer was COTTON MARY, filmed in Kerala, and starring Madhur Jaffrey, Greta Scacchi, and James Wilby. The film tells the tale of an Anglo-Indian nurse in search of her identity in Post-Colonial India, and has been described as the finest example of Merchant's ability to combine the best of East and West in modern cinema.

Merchant is also a renowned chef and author of a number of books on cookery, including ISMAIL MERCHANT'S INDIAN CUISINE, ISMAIL MERCHANT'S FLORENCE, ISMAIL MERCHANT'S PASSIONATE MEALS and ISMAIL MERCHANT'S PARIS: FILMING AND FEASTING IN FRANCE. In addition, he has authored a book about the making of the film THE DECEIVERS in 1988 called HULLABALOO IN OLD JEYPUR, and another about the making of THE PROPRIETOR called ONCE UPON A TIME.. .THE PROPRIETOR. The American release of THE GOLDEN BOWL in April of 2001, starring NickNolte, Uma Thurman and Anjelica Huston, marked the Fortieth Anniversary of Merchant's career in film production, a career which has already earned the Merchant Ivory team a place in The Guinness Book of World Records for the longest partnership in independent cinema.

In addition to numerous accolades Merchant has won in the world of film, he is also an Honorary Doctor of Arts at Bard College, New York, and an Honorary Doctor of Arts at Wesleyan College, University of Illinois. He has been honored by the Mayor of New York, received the Marie des Paris for his outstanding contribution to cinema and has also received the Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Ministry of Culture in France.

V. S. Naipaul (Author)
V. S. Naipaul was born in Chaguanas, Trinidad on August 17, 1932. In 1950, he went to England on a scholarship at University College, Oxford. Four years later he began to write, and since then has followed no other profession. His first novel was THE MYSTIC MASSEUR. Since then, he has published more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including A HOUSE FOR MR. BISWAS , A BEND IN THE RIVER, and a collection of letters, BETWEEN FATHER AND SON. He has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the Booker Prize in 1971 for IN A FREE STATED a knighthood for his services to literature in 1990, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. He lives in Wiltshire, England. His books include, BEYOND BELIEF, INDIA: A Million Mutinies Now, A TURN IN THE SOOTH, FINDING THE CENTER, AMONG THE BELIEVERS, THE RETURN OF EVA PERON, THE KILLINGS IN TRINIDAD, INDIA: A Wounded Civilization, THE OVERCROWDED BARRACOON, THE LOSS OF EL DORADO, THE MIDDLE PASSAGE, HALF A LIFE, A WAY IN THE WORLD, THE ENIGMA OF ARRIVAL, GUERRILLAS, IN A FREE STATE, A FLAG IN THE ISLAND, MR. STONE AND THE KNIGHT'S COMPANION, MIGUEL STREET, THE SUFFRAGE OF ELVIRA, and THE MMIC MEN.

CARYL PHILLIPS (Screenwriter)
Caryl Phillips was bom in St. Kitts, West Indies and grew up in Leeds, England. After graduating from Oxford University in 1979 with a degree in English Literature, he wrote his first novel, THE FINAL PASSAGE (1985), for which he won the Malcolm X prize for fiction. His subsequent works of fiction, A STATE OF INDEPENDENCE (1986), HIGHER GROUND (1989), CAMBRIDGE (1991) CROSSING THE RIVER (1993) and THE NATURE OF BLOOD (1997) have won him many prizes, including the 1991 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and the 1993 James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In 1993 CROSSING THE RIVER was short listed for the prestigious Booker Prize. In addition, Caryl Phillips has won a British Council Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 1994 Lannan Literary Award. He is also the author of several plays, screenplays, numerous reviews and articles, and two works of non-fiction, THE EUROPEAN TRIBE (1987), for which he won the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, and THE ATLANTIC SOUND (2000). He is the editor of an anthology of English Literature written by British authors not born in Britain, EXTRAVAGANT STRANGERS (1997) and an anthology of writing about tennis, THE RIGHT SET (1999). He divides his time between London and New York City, where he is Professor of English and Henry R. Luce Professor of Migration and Social Order at Barnard College, Columbia University.

Richard Hawley was born in New York and first joined the Merchant Ivory family in 1985 as James Ivory's Assistant Director on SLAVES OF NEW YORK, then as Associate Producer on THE PROPRIETOR. More recently, his credits include Executive Producer on A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES and Producer on COTTON MARY. His other credits as a writer, assistant director, and director include MOTHER'S BOYS for Miramax, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, RIVER'S EDGE, and AMERICAN HEART. Hawley heads up Merchant Ivory Productions' North American operations, including Merchant Ivory Film Distribution which has successfully released such films as Theo Angelopoulos1 ETERNITY AND A DAY, Alain Resnais1 SAME OLD SONG, Lea Pool's SET ME FREE, and last year's RATCATCHER by Lynne Ramsay.

Born and brought up in Bombay, Nayeem Hafizka started his film career in 1985 as an assistant director for renowned Indian director Shyam Senegal. In that same year, he went to Italy and England to work with Merchant Ivory on the Oscar nominated A ROOM WITH A VIEW. Since then he has frequently worked with Ismail Merchant as Assistant or Assistant Director. He made his debut as a filmmaker with THE DOLL'S WEDDING which he produced, directed and co-wrote. The next film he produced was GAACH - THE TREE directed by Catherine Berge, documenting the life and works of Bengali icon Soumitra Chatterji. The film was presented at the 54th Venice Film Festival. His most recent venture, prior to producing COTTON MARY, which starred Greta Scacchi, James Wilby, and Madhur Jaffrey, was as an Executive film producer on Merchant Ivory's A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES starring Kris Kristofferson, Barbara Hershey, Virginie Ledoyen, Leelee Sobieski and Dominique Blanc.

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