One of the path-breaking movies that might win an Oscar this year is Call Me By Your Name. The movie earned widespread critical acclaim for its artistic portrayal of the budding romance between a 24-year old man and a 17-year old boy. After gaining popularity in the indie circuit, the movie also acquired a cult status. The movie has the potential to go super creepy given the premise, but an elegant screenplay by James Ivory kept that from happening. He was supposed to co-direct the movie with Luca Guadagnino but after producers thought this might create a problem in the creative process, James limited himself to screenwriting. Now, he has been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Adapted Screenplay and the results are due to come out on March 5 (IST). He has become the most aged man to earn a nomination at the Academy Awards and if he wins, he'd be setting the record for being the oldest man to win the laurel. But did you know that this celebrated screenwriter has an Indian connect? Here is the love story of this talented filmmaker and his Indian partner - in his professional and as well as domestic life.
James Ivory was screening his documentary The Sword and the Flute, at the Indian Consulate in New York in 1959, where he met his romantic partner Ismail Merchant for the first time. Ismail was on his way to the Cannes with his own film and decided for a pitstop upon hearing the praises of James' film.
James and Ismail instantly hit it off and began a romantic relationship. They also became professional partners in 1961 when they started their production house, Merchant Ivory Productions. Their company became one of the most successful production houses in Hollywood and has produced some of the most popular films. Their collab has won 5 Academy Awards in the past. "Merchant Ivory", over the years, became an expression to denote a particular type of film, more than talking about the films by the production house. A period drama set in the 20th century with British characters suffering from delusions was often termed as a 'Merchant-Ivory film'.
Ismail passed away in 2015, and he was buried in a graveyard in Marine Lines, Mumbai as his last wish was to be buried with his ancestors. In a recent interview, James has said that Ismail's death is the "most terrible thing happened to" him. Talking about change in marriage laws for the LGBT community, he said, Today, everyone goes off and gets married whenever they want to, to whomever they want, and that is an enormous change to allow people to be who they are and love who they will," He was questioned if he would have married Ismail if he was alive, James said, "We were married — we didn't have to get married."
You don't write a screenplay without having a fragment of your 44-year-long relationship seep into it. We are sure one could spot James and Ismail's life in Call Me By Your Name.
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