Mystic Masseur, The (2001) - Synopsis

Mystic Masseur, The (2001) - Synopsis ImageIn this film, based on the comic novel of Trinidad life by Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul, the hero, Ganesh Ransumair, is a schoolteacher in the island's capital city, Port of Spain. He learns that his father has died, and he travels back to his country village where he arranges for the burial. Once there he realizes that if he is to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer, he should probably stay in the village and write. He is determined to make something of himself in the world and thereby honour the memory of his father.

Ganesh is encouraged by his boisterous aunt, and by a neighbor, Ramlogan, to pursue his dreams. He decides to seek peace and quiet and moves to another village, but before he does so he marries Ramloan's daughter, Leela. Once they arrive in the new village Ganesh settles down to write. However, money is in short supply and his wife's patience begins to wear thin.

Eventually she moves back to her father's house, leaving Ganesh by himself. A lonely Ganesh is befriended by a local shopkeeper, Beharry, who both encourages and helps him. Eventually, Ganesh finishes his first book, but despite the efforts of Beharry, his ever faithful aunt, and his wife - who returns to Ganesh - the book fails to sell.

In an effort to make money, Ganesh turns his hands to 'healing' and couples his life as a 'writer' with his life as a village healer. When he 'cures' a young boy named Partap, the son of his former Port of Spain landlady, word spreads of Ganesh's remarkable skills. Curing Partap makes a turning point in Ganesh's fortunes. His aunt convinces him that he has his father's 'gift', and people soon flock to Ganesh and buy his books. He is a success and eventually he makes a run for politics. It is only when he decides to move back to Port of Spain, as a newly elected Member of Parliament, that his fortunes begin to wane.

Ganesh is a country boy: Trinidad is on the verge of political independence. This 'Man of the People' is out of his depth in the metropolis, and eventually he retires to obscurity. But his rise to 'power' has been a spectacular and moving 'rags to riches' tale of decency and hard work triumphing over chicanery and double dealing. Ganesh refuses to let the city corrupt him, and his retirement is one of serenity and peace.