Friday, May 27, 2005

Remembering Ismail Merchant

I’m saddened by the passing of filmmaker Ismail Merchant this week. He was a very talented and gracious person – and I feel fortunate to have met him. Here is an excerpt from “Confessions of a Movie Addict” (Hats Off Books) describing that memorable experience:

Much of the excitement at Telluride’s 28th Annual Film Festival happened off-screen. More than usual this year, my husband Larry and I faced situations filled with suspense, adventure, humor, and exotic food. During a hectic 2001 Labor Day weekend, we got lost in the mountains at midnight, sampled Indian cuisine prepared by acclaimed director Ismail Merchant, and received unsolicited advice from Roger Ebert.

One of our favorite films screened at this festival was “The Mystic Masseur.” I didn’t want it to end! Focusing on one man’s burning desire to become an author, this engrossing Merchant Ivory film evoked my own feelings about writing. "Put my picture on the cover," Ganesh, played brilliantly by Aasif Mandvi, insists to the publisher of his first book, a catechism about the Hindu religion. The movie showcased Aasif Mandvi’s acting versatility as his character ages. . .(and) Ismail Merchant directed with his trademark classy touch.

For me, the highlight of the festival came as the result of an invitation to a midnight supper celebrating “The Mystic Masseur.” However, finding hosts Ann and Vincent Mai’s mountain home became an adventure with almost as much suspense as an Alfred Hitchcock film. No matter how many wrong exits or twists and turns stood in our way, Larry and I were determined to attend that party. Our persistence paid off. Greeted by Ismail Merchant himself, who served as master chef for the occasion, we then mingled with such VIPs as James Ivory, Salman Rushdie, Faye Dunaway, Aasif Mandvi, Peter Sellars, Om Puri, and legendary tabla player Zakir Hussein. Although Roger Ebert failed to appear, he called Ismail Merchant’s latest movie "a lovely film" after its screening. I told Ebert that Larry and I could identify with the main character because our first book had been published during the past year. "Be sure to put your picture on the cover just like Ganesh did," he quipped. "Too late for that, Roger," I replied.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home