The first film adapted from a novel by Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul, The Mystic Masseur follows the rise and decline of an ambitious young man in the expatriate Hindu community in Trinidad. After his father dies, Ganesh (Aa... more »sif Mandvi), an aspiring writer, goes to his father's village and takes over his massage business. Though his writing efforts nearly break up his marriage with Leela (Ayesha Dharker, The Terrorist), the publication of his first book brings them back together--but opens up all kinds of other troubles. With the help of a little showmanship, Ganesh builds a reputation as a healer and a wise man; but when his reputation leads him to get into politics, he loses his path. Despite strong performances, the movie's leisurely pace undercuts an already unfocused storyline. Also featuring Om Puri (East Is East, My Son the Fanatic). --Bret Fetzer« less
Charlene C. (mccoffield) from SOUTHLAKE, TX Reviewed on 5/1/2011...
This movie is based on the first book by the Nobel Prize winning author V.S. Naipaul. It is the touching and comic story of Ganesh, an Indian man living in Trinidad.
Ganesh has always wanted to be a writer. After his father's death, Ganesh meets a beautiful girl whose father talks Ganesh into following in his own father's footsteps as a healer. Reluctantly, Ganesh accepts this career but only in order to support his true dream of becoming a writer. This is the story of the trials and comic tribulations of his journey as a mystic healer, a writer, and a polititian.
This Merchant Ivory Productions film is well done and provides rare insight into the beauty and the people of mid-20th century Trinidad. Starring Aasif Mandvi as Genesh and Om Puri as the father-in-law. Directed by Ismail Merchant, who also produced A ROOM WITH A VIEW, HOWARD'S END, and THE REMAINS OF THE DAY.
A Truly Curious Film
Linda McDonnell | Brooklyn, U.S.A | 06/09/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Yet another of my "whatever the heck is playing" excursions to the local theatre, "The Mystic Masseur" could have been about anything, I figured. After all, I thoroughly enjoyed "Monsoon Wedding", so I had high hopes for this movie, about Trinidadians of Indian descent. "The Mystic Masseur" is about a young scholar who decides to chuck his teaching job, only to author a book that eventually launches his career as a masseur, which is more than just someone who gives a rub-down--in this context, a masseur is something of a shaman healer. There is much that is good in this movie, but it has problems that keep it from getting a higher rating from me.Good: The acting is all first-rate, and it is quite a funny movie in many spots. I especially love one female character who always has to interrupt her advice to the scholar with continual chastisement of her son--"'Ey boy, leave that parrot alone or I will hit you" in that lilting Trinidadian speech. Bad: This is a movie that has passage of time in it. The masseur
ages, his friend ages, the little boy grows up, but oddly enough, the masseur's wife has no old makeup and doesn't do anything to suggest that she has moved on in years like everyone else. Why is that? Another, more serious flaw is that the movie just stops, and the credits roll. The ending is not at all definitive enough--that's a big problem. In fact, it was only when I sat there looking at the credits rolling that I learned this was a Merchant Ivory film. Well, just goes to show that not every movie can be "Room with a View". There was nothing here to EVER make me wonder whether this film came from that team. Final verdict? Could have stood a little massaging to make it into a better movie than ultimately it is."
Linda McDonnell | 10/15/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I saw the "Mystic Massuer" recently. As a Trinidadian I eagerly looked forward to seeing a cinematographic presentation of a work by one of our finest writers. I was sorely disappointed. The acting fell far below what I'd expected - with the actors seeming to merely go through the motions. The story dragged and lacked development (what about Ganesh's wife not being able to have a baby!!) and, after all that, the film ended too abruptly. Costuming was unreal, historical facts were distorted (steelpan music on the radio!!), and accents seemed to come and go. I look forward to seeing a cinema showing this part of the world using Caribbean actors. Please do something about making the story move - just because pundit meanders through his life, doesn't mean I want to feel like I'm spending a lifetime meandering through this film. The best thing I can say is: Thanks for paying tribute to writer V. S. Naipaul. Had some nice scenery."
THE RISE AND DEVELOPMENT OF A PUNDIT...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 04/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an unusual Merchant/Ivory film that focuses on the Indian community of Trinidad from 1943 to about 1954. It focuses in particular upon a young teacher, who takes a wife, outfoxes her wily, grasping father, and lives in the country, desiring only to write books. Still, he has to earn a living, so he becomes a masseur, which is not a masseuse, but rather, a healer. He also writes a books on Hinduism, which he publishes himself. He becomes known as the Mystic Masseur and develops a country wide following.His book and those books that follow are quickly bought up by a now adoring public who revere him as a Pundit. A brief career in politics soon follows, only for him to discover that an adoring public can turn fickle. The film meanders along, as does this pundit's life. With first rate cinematography and stellar performances by the entire cast, this is a very good, though unusual, film. Those who are interested in other cultures will find this film of some interest. If you are not so inclined, deduct one star from my review."
An absorbing, engrossing story with no Ending!
Fred W Hood | Fayetteville, GA United States | 03/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When my wife and I look for unique movies we are quite often disappointed! But on occasion we strike it rich. For our first night, I was a bit too tired to stay awake thru thirty minutes, but she stayed with it for over half. The next evening we both finished it with an absorbing interest... Yet we had questions about the length of timing from the beginning in Oxford all the way thru Ganeesh getting married to writing his first book, the dabbling with politics, becoming a famous healer, then his fame as author and political figure leading him back to Oxford. We commented on the good acting, the scenery of Trinidad, their cultures and great contrasts with England and India. Yet we still had questions about the central personalities and the unique images of their change from "country-like common people" who suddenly matured into readers with a quickly developed background to give them remarkable powers of healing, judgment and wisdom. All in all, I have a temptation to pass the movie off to three friends who might have some interest in suggested Theology of their Hindu thinking about the spiritual gifts of Pundit in his ability to heal both body and spirit! It may well be that leaving the story open-ended was intentional with potential results of allowing more questions for discussion and word-of-mouth advertising of such an engrossing story!Retired Chaplain Fred W. Hood"