The Indian Diaspora


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Ismail Merchant and James Ivory met in New York in 1961 and formed a partnership. Merchant Ivory Productions, to make English-language theatrical features for the international market. Since making their first film, "The Householder" in 1963, they have made a total of 44 films, which have either won or been nominated for more than 70 international awards, winning six Academy Awards and seven British Academy Awards. The collaboration has produced films like "Shakespeare Wallah", "Heat and Dust", "The Bostonians", "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge", "A Room with a View"; "Howards End" and "The Remains of the Day". Their latest venture "The Mystic Masseur" is based on V.S Naipaul's first novel.

Ismail Merchant was born in Bombay, India. He has lived and worked for most of his life in the West, completing his education at New York University where he earned a Master of Business Administration degree. Merchant's first film was a theatrical short, "The Creation of a Woman" which was nominated in 1961 for an Academy Award and was an official entry at the Cannes Film Festival the same year. In addition to producing several award winning films for Merchant Ivory Productions, Merchant has directed "In Custody", "The Proprietor", "Cotton Mary" and most recently, "The Mystic Masseur". He received the Marie des Paris for his outstanding contribution to cinema as well as the Commander de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Ministry of Culture in France. In addition to the numerous accolades. Merchant is an author of several cook books and an Honorary Doctor of Arts at Bard Film College, New York and Wesleyan College, University of Illinois.

DIRECTOR: James Ivory was born in Berkeley, California and educated at the University of Oregon, where he majored in Architecture and Fine Arts. His first film was "Venice: Theme and Variations", a half-hour documentary made as a thesis film for a Master's Degree in cinema from the University of
Southern California. The Merchant Ivory Productions was formed in 1961. Since their first theatrical feature "The Householder", James Ivory has won numerous accolades including the prestigious D.W Griffith Award from the
Directors Guild of America

(1965, b/w, 108 minutes)
DATE: Thursday, November 1. TIME: 7 p.m.

Festivals and Awards: 1965 Berlin (Madhur Jaffrey - Golden Bear for Best supporting Actress). New York Film Festival. 1965 New York Film Festival, 1968 Acadmeie du Cinema (Best Foreign Language Film)

SYNOPSIS: "Shakespeare Wallah" is a landmark film which heaped laurels on the creativity of the newly arrived Merchant Ivory duo. The film gave an impetus to India's post-sixties cinema. The film, from on an original script by Rutli Jhabvala.
is loosely based on (he real life experiences of an English troupe, wliicli toured India after (lie Britisli Raj was replaced with Indian independence. In the film the three members of a theatrical family play themselves. The father (Geoffrey Kendal),
his actress wife (Laura Lidell), and their ingenue daughter (Felicity Kendal) are the 'stars' of a forlorn little group which is trying to eke out a living putting on 'Gems of Shakespeare' to increasingly sparse Indian audiences, bored and restless with the
theater and avid for movies. They decide to send their daugter
back to England. However, she falls in love with an Indian playboy played by Shashi Kapoor who has a glamorous movie actress (Madhur JafTrey) for a mistress. Although the daughter is willing to forsake her career for him. the mistress adroitly ends their romance.

The young, unknown cast in the film today rank as luminaries in the entertainment world Shashi Kapoor has starred in over 250 films including "The Householder", "Heat and Dust", "The Deceivers", "In Custody" and in the current IAAC program. "Side Streets" by Tony Gerher. Madhur JafTrey won the Berlin Golden Bear lor her role in this film. She is today an internationally known stage and screen actress, and like her mentor Ismail Merchant, a gourmet cook. In the IAAC program, JalTrey is featured in Nisha Ganatra's "Chulney Popcorn". Felicity Kendal was in her teens and has since become a highly regarded stage actresses in England. Jennifer Kendall (the late wife of actor Shashi Kapoor) was also an accomplished stage and screen actress, lauded for her performances in Shyani Benegal's "Junoon" and Aparna Sen's "36 Chowringhee Lane". Partap Sharma is today a leading writer, actor and commentator in India. The late Utpal Dutt was among the most esteemed actors working out of Bengal.

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