Entertainment News

James Ivory on keeping his relationship with Ismail Merchant under wraps: ‘Well, you just wouldn’t’

The filmmaker opened up about his other half in an interview with ‘The Guardian’.

Acclaimed director and Oscar winner James Ivory has opened up about his 44-year-long relationship with his producing partner, Ismail Merchant, in an interview with The Guardian. Ivory told the newspaper on Tuesday that he had to keep his relationship with Merchant, with whom he ran Merchant Ivory Productions, a secret because of Merchant’s conservative background.

“Well, you just wouldn’t,” said Ivory, who won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Luca Guadagnino’s gay romance Call Me By Your Name in March. “That is not something that an Indian Muslim would ever say publicly or in print. Ever! You have to remember that Ismail was an Indian citizen living in Bombay, with a deeply conservative Muslim family there. It’s not the sort of thing he was going to broadcast. Since we were so close and lived most of our lives together, I wasn’t about to undermine him.”

Merchant and Ivory made 44 films set in India, Europe and America. Among their most celebrated films, which were directed by Ivory, are Shakespeare Wallah (1965), Heat and Dust (1983), A Room with a View (1985), Maurice (1987), Howards End (1992) and The Remains of the Day (1993). Merchant died in 2005. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the novelist and screenwriter of 23 MIP titles, died in 2013.

Ivory, who is 89, became the oldest Academy Award winner in March. He attributed the popularity of Call Me By Your Name, adapted from Andre Aciman’s novel of the same name, to the fact that the movie is an “unabashed first-love idea everyone can identify with”. Ivory said about the romance between 17-year-old Elio and his father’s 24-year-old student Oliver, “The sexual orientation of the characters doesn’t mean as much as the emotion of the story.”

However, Ivory criticised the lack of frontal nudity in the movie, especially since his screenplay stated that Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer) would be shown naked. This detail was apparently not included in the movie because of clauses in the actors’ contracts. “When Luca says he never thought of putting nudity in, that is totally untrue,” Ivory told The Guardian. “He sat in this very room where I am sitting now, talking about how he would do it, so when he says that it was a conscious aesthetic decision not to – well, that’s just bullshit. When people are wandering around before or after making love, and they’re decorously covered with sheets, it’s always seemed phoney to me. I never liked doing that. And I don’t do it, as you know.” He pointed out that in Maurice, his 1987 movie based on EM Forster’s gay love story, “the two guys have had sex and they get up and you certainly see everything there is to be seen”. Ivory added, “To me, that’s a more natural way of doing things than to hide them, or to do what Luca did, which is to pan the camera out of the window toward some trees.”

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Call Me By Your Name (2017).
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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

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Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.