My Passage from India

A Filmaker's Journey from Bombay to Hollywood and Beyond

By Ismail Merchant

"Ismail Merchant is supposed to be a producer of beguiling films, but now he has transformed himself into a writer.  The lines he writes would be the envy of any novelist: he is incapable of writing one that is dull, slack or lifeless.  The story of his life is the stuff of fiction but no fiction writer could have imagined or written it." -- Anita Desai, author

"My Passage From India is a fabulous book of dreams and journeys and high achievements.  The simple but mesmerizing style of the narrative is the perfect introduction to a man who has become a legend from Bombay to Hollywood."  -- Geordie Greig, editor of Tatler Magazine

"In the tradition of so many of his own films, Ismail Merchant's My Passage From India is a wonderfully crafted narrative of an improbable, yet ultimately triumphant, international odyssey." -- Caryl Phillips, author

"My Indian commitment was to economics and, needless to say, the diverse and sometimes dull assignments of diplomacy.  But the pleasure was the wonderful art and literary achievements of this diverse and spacious land.  Of the latter, none gave me more pleasure than the work of Ismail Merchant and the interest and joy continues now with this compelling book of good writing and wonderfully appealing art." -- John Kenneth Galbraith, author & historian

"Working with Ismail Merchant and James Ivory has been one of the highlights of my literary career, and it is therefore a special pleasure to read Mr. Merchant's highly entertaining, honest, and often hilarious memoir. Ismail Merchant has lived the American dream -- the kind of life we aspire to. A book of great power and beauty." -- Kaylie Jones, author

"My Passage From India is a delightful trip, words and pictures both.  I enjoyed it from the start and hope the passage continues indefinitely" -- Evan S. Connell, author

"[An] enchanting memoir...candid and humorous" -- Molly Haskell, author

"From [his] star-struck Bombay boyhood to the honor-laden present-day, Merchant's memoir sweeps us along with his fearless, restless creative spirit and his remarkable zest for life." -- Kennedy Fraser, author

Regarded as one of the world's leading producers of Independent Films, Ismail Merchant is best known for his award-winning films produced with director James Ivory - Heat and Dust, A Room with a View, Howards End, The Remains of the Day to name just a few. He has produced over 40 films and has won six Oscars. But when he's not making films set in America and Europe, he's making movies in his native India. In his new book, MY PASSAGE FROM INDIA: A Filmmakers Journey from Bombay to Hollywood and Beyond (Viking Studio; On-Sale: November 25, 2002; Price: $35.00; 160 pages), Ismail Merchant takes us on a guided tour of how a middle class Muslim boy from Bombay became an internationally acclaimed producer with a string of award winning films to his credit.

Ismail Merchant's India of yesterday is not so different from today. In contrast to the colorful markets and trees full of fat juicy mangoes, there was also the bloodshed of partition and the madness of religious fervor. All of Ismail Merchant's memories are captured in this book - from his early infatuation with the Indian actress Nimmi and the initial moments he began to fall in love with cinema, to his international triumphs of today as a producer. "A bit on the chubby side," the more he ate, the more he realized he wanted to cook; likewise, the more cinematic experiences he had as a viewer and fan, the more he imagined himself creating them. And he does, taking us along on his journey to Hollywood, where he rode on a wave of charm and guile, over the bumps of risky endeavors and through to the glory of success of his films of the 1980's and '90's.

Complete with a history of his successful partnerships with James Ivory and writer Ruth Jhabvala and a supporting cast of Hollywood's best-known actors, writers, composers and directors, MY PASSAGE TO INDIA also includes 75 lush photographs of Merchant's rise to the top of the film industry. [Lately, Indian films have been taking the U.S. market by storm.]. This book is a vivid memoir of one of India's greatest film talents and a colorful account of the lasting impact India has had on the thing that Ismail Merchant does best: filmmaking.


Ismail Merchant was born in Bombay. He attended New York University where he earned a master's degree in business administration. Merchant is the producer of more than 40 films, garnering 31 Oscar nominations, including three for Best Picture. The director of In Custody (based on Anita Desai's novel) and The Mystic Masseur (based on V.S. Naipaul's novel), Merchant is also the author of several books, including the best-selling Passionate Meals for Fearless Cooks and Adventurous Eaters.


by Ismail Merchant
Viking Studio; ISBN: 0-670-03163-1
On-Sale: November 25, 2002
Price:$35.00; Pages:160

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Gretchen Koss, Director of Viking Studio Publicity at 212-366-2440


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