Ismail Merchant, the producer of thoughtful films that were usually literary and period, died yesterday at age 68 yesterday; he had been suffering from abdominal ulcers. With partner, director James Ivory, their production company, Merchant-Ivory became a brand name for classy, extremely well art-designed fare, such as A Room with a View, Howard's End, and Remains of the Day. While many of Merchant's films took place Europe, he had a New York City connection: He received an MBA from NYU and lived on the Upper East Side part-time. Plus, one of early Merchant-Ivory film was an adaptation of Tama Janowitz's The Slaves of New York.
Merchant was also an accomplished cook, publishing books about Indian cuisine, such as Passionate Meals. You can read Merchant's biography, My Passage to India, and Gothamist highly recommends a more recent, unusual Merchant-Ivory film, A Solider's Daughter Never Cries.