This documentary, by Merchant Ivory stillsman Derrick Santini, courses through the life of Ismail Merchant, from childhood in Bombay, the son of a Muslim textile merchant, to his heights in 1994 as producer of The Remains of the Day. Bombay is the Indian Hollywood, but it was on a trip to New York for university studies that Merchant first saw the work of De Sica and Satyajit Ray and realised the type of film he wished to make. Santini has rounded up the usual suspects: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, Simon Callow ('He's a maverick,' echoing the rest), collaborator/writer Ruth Jhabvala, et al. Shashi Kapoor has been a friend since the first MI film, The Householder in 1963, so his comments on working on In Custody, Merchant's feature debut - 'He's the most fascist director in the world!' - could be humorous. Critic Andrew Sarris and ex-Disney supremo Jeffrey Katzenberg's testimony shows the Yanks have been wowed too. After 30 years of struggle, the world seems to be his oyster - or perhaps his chicken tikka.
Cast and crew
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala