Mystic Masseur

The Mystic Masseur, the first film version of a novel by Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul, is set in Trinidad's Indian community during the 1940s. And thanks to the clever, caring touch of director Ismail Merchant, working from a script by Caryl Phillips, this steadily engrossing film captures the book's bracing humor and humanity. Merchant gets the details right as Ganesh (Aasif Mandvi in a vivid performance), a schoolteacher with his late father's power for healing, realizes his dream to write books that touch the spirit even if he can't summon the power to smash the brick wall of British colonialism.

From The Archives Issue 229: December 30, 1976