Up 13,240 this week

The Mystic Masseur (2001)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  29 March 2002 (UK)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 5.9/10 from 408 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 16 user | 36 critic | 26 from

In 1950s Trinidad, a frustrated writer supports himself as a masseur--and soon becomes a revered mystic and politico.



(novel), (screenplay)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 44 titles
created 27 Jul 2012
a list of 3152 titles
created 28 Nov 2012
a list of 64 titles
created 11 months ago
a list of 227 titles
created 10 months ago
a list of 154 titles
created 9 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Mystic Masseur (2001)

The Mystic Masseur (2001) on IMDb 5.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Mystic Masseur.
1 win. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Circa 1971, Gustad Noble lives in a one bedroom hall rented apartment in Byculla, Bombay. He travels to work everyday by Central Railway to Victoria Terminus and walks to Flora Fountain to ... See full summary »

Director: Sturla Gunnarsson
Stars: Roshan Seth, Soni Razdan, Om Puri
Cotton Mary (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

A British family is trapped between culture, tradition, and the colonial sins of the past.

Directors: Ismail Merchant, Madhur Jaffrey
Stars: Greta Scacchi, Madhur Jaffrey, James Wilby
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Pakistani taxi-driver Parvez and prostitute Bettina find themselves trapped in the middle when Islamic fundamentalists decide to clean up their local town.

Director: Udayan Prasad
Stars: Om Puri, Rachel Griffiths, Akbar Kurtha
My Kingdom (2001)
Drama | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Modern story inspired by King Lear set in contemporary Liverpool.

Director: Don Boyd
Stars: Richard Harris, Lynn Redgrave, Reece Noi
Life Goes On (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A doctor faces challenges in life as well as from his daughters after the sudden passing of his wife.

Director: Sangeeta Datta
Stars: Sharmila Tagore, Girish Karnad, Om Puri
Anita and Me (2002)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Meena, a 12-year-old living in a mining village in the English Midlands in 1972, is the daughter of Indian parents who've come to England to give her a better life. This idyllic existence ... See full summary »

Director: Metin Hüseyin
Stars: Kabir Bedi, Max Beesley, Sanjeev Bhaskar
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Amir is an illegal Pakistani immigrant smuggled into England in the 1960's to work, to send money to his family and perhaps even bring them over with him. A skilled laborer, he is forced to... See full summary »

Director: Udayan Prasad
Stars: Om Puri, Pavan Malhotra, Angeline Ball
Happy Now (2001)
Comedy | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A teenage girl whose eerie resemblance to a local Welsh beauty queen killed 14 years earlier disturbs one of the men responsibile for her accidental death.

Director: Philippa Cousins
Stars: Philip Howe, Emmy Rossum, Robert Pugh
The Guru (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Britain's top pop artiste, Tom Pickle, travels to Bombay, India, circa 1960s to learn to play the sitar (musical instrument) from renowned maestro Ustad Zafar Khan. Tom is taken to Zafar's ... See full summary »

Director: James Ivory
Stars: Rita Tushingham, Michael York, Utpal Dutt
Sam & Me (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

23-year-old Nikhil comes to Canada from India to find his fortune and is convinced by his uncle to work as a companion and care-giver to Sam, an elderly Jewish man. An unlikely friendship ensues, which gives both men new insight into life.

Director: Deepa Mehta
Stars: Ranjit Chowdhry, Peter Boretski, Om Puri
Darkness (TV Mini-Series 1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

This TV miniseries ("Darkness" in English) became famous in India in the mid/late 80s for its realistic depiction of the partition of the Indian subcontinent. In 1947, the sub continent ... See full summary »

Stars: Om Puri, Deepa Sahi, Amrish Puri
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Director: Harvey Crossland
Stars: Akesh Gill, Jasminder K. Rattan, Om Puri


Cast overview, first billed only:
Ganesh Ramseyor
Leela G. Ramseyor
Pratap Cooper
Zohra Segal ...
Suruj Mooma
Albert Laveau ...
Grace Maharaj ...
Mrs. Cooper
Mr. Stewart
Michael Cherrie ...
Man in yellow suit
Maureen Thompson ...
Woman in rainbow dress
Dinesh Maharaj ...
Taxi driver


Circa 1940 in Trinidad, still a British Colony, lives Ganesh Ramseyor, of East Indian origin, along with his wife, Leela. He longs to reach out to people, especially to Hindus, in order to promote the Hindu Faith, and be known as a writer. He does get considerable success, so much so that he becomes famous as a miracle worker, having cured a man of sharing intimacy with his bicycle; prevented a man from believing that he can fly; and convincing a young woman to end her fast. His fame spreads all over the island and thousands throng to seek his blessings, which he does dole out quite benevolently, without charging any fees from the poor and the needy. He then decides to spread his wings by challenging the local politician Pandit Narayan Chandrashekhar alias Cyrus T., and takes over The Hindu Organization, thence opening his way to a seat in the prestigious Member of the Legislative Assembly. Now literally the sky is the limit for Ganesh, and he knows that he can achieve any position - ... Written by rAjOo (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ganesh | hindu | trinidad | mystic | fame | See All (152) »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild language | See all certifications »



| |


Release Date:

29 March 2002 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El masajista místico  »

Box Office


$2,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$18,550 (USA) (3 May 2002)


$398,610 (USA) (20 September 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Scandal in the Family
Written by Simon Jackson
Performed by Maya Angelou
Published by BMI
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Film versus novel
7 May 2003 | by (Delaware Ohio) – See all my reviews

A half century ago, Trinidad was an outpost of the waning British Empire and, like most British holdings, attracted immigrants from the jewel in the crown, India, who established villages on the island. Novelist V.S. Naipaul, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature last year, grew up there. His first few novels wryly explored the comic clash between his fellow Indians and their exotic setting.

Now The Mystic Masseur, his first novel (1957) , comes to the screen directed by Ismail Merchant, best known as the producer half of the Merchant Ivory filmmaking team. Naipaul published it a few years after leaving Trinidad to study at Oxford, hoping for a career as a writer. The novel, narrated by a young Trinidad Indian at Oxford, refracts elements from Naipaul's early life into a story about another islander with similar but misplaced ambitions.

Ganesh Ransumair burns to make his mark in the world of letters. The trouble is, Trinidad doesn't offer much scope for a man with little learning and less talent. In his poor village on the outskirts of the colonial capital, books are so rare that a conniving shopkeeper with a marriageable daughter tries to score points with Ganesh by showing off his library, a collection of tattered paperback mysteries he's obviously never read. The daughter wins a few points, though, with her beauty and odd enthusiasm for English punctuation, of all things. A marriage is arranged and the new wife waits impatiently for her husband to finish the book that will make them rich. It turns out to be a pamphlet on Hinduism that fails to sell. Ganesh is then persuaded to try his hand as a masseur – actually, a faith healer – and once he gets the patter right and performs a few miraculous cures, he's on his way. Now the books he writes sell like hotcakes, not because Ganesh is a great author, but because he is a famous mystic. He parlays his fame among island Indians into an election victory, winning a seat on the colonial council.

Caryl Phillips' screenplay starts where Naipaul's novel ends, with a young Oxford student, an Indian from Trinidad, sent to meet an island statesman named G. Ramsay Muir at the railway station. Muir turns out to be Ganesh, thoroughly Anglicized and eager to visit the dreaming spires of the university town. Phillips invents scenes of Ganesh gushing at the riches of the Bodleian Library, marveling at all the learning he was never able to acquire. In the novel, learning that Muir is the ex-masseur is a comic punch line that caps the story of a man eager to reinvent himself. Phillips' decision to start there and then backtrack to Ganesh's rise leaves the movie without an ending and skews its themes.

But the movie works best where the novel also succeeds, in characters who wait impatiently while young Ganesh works out his mission in life. Chief among these is Ramlogan, the shopkeeper played by Om Puri, a veteran of Indian cinema. Wily, crass, but always polite, Ramlogan seems to smell the money this poor scholar might make. His daughter Leela (Ayesha Dharker) steals a few scenes when she wonders aloud why Ganesh isn't making any. As for Ganesh, Aasif Mandvi's performance seems driven by the plot, not the character. James Fox shows up twice in a weird cameo role as an Englishman gone native.

The Mystic Masseur is wildly comic when Merchant can get Ramlogan, Leela, and Ganesh into his lens. Then the interplay between Ganesh's ambition and the more practical concerns of his wife and father-in-law get laughs. Their dialect, Indian English with a Caribbean flavor, is also fun to listen to, although hard to follow at times. But Merchant is not much of a director, with too many flat shots of characters talking in the middle distance and cutaways to show their reaction. The languid editing also deadens the pace.

Coming so soon after Monsoon Wedding, a much more lively film, Mystic Masseur seems slow and unconvincing once it gets past village scenes. It aims at themes its characters never quite hit. Comedy comes from situations Ganesh finds himself in, not from the wobbly arc of his upward career. What's missing in this adaptation is the affectionate wonder of Naipaul's narrator who can laugh with but also at Ganesh but who also, in the novel, offers an implicit contrast to his ambitions. As Ganesh strives to become something more than the mystic masseur, he crashes into a theme Naipaul would develop in his later novels: the troubled identity of the exile caught between different worlds. In 1957, when Naipaul was just starting out, he could look back on Ganesh with wry affection, confident that his path would follow that of his narrator instead. A half century later, with laurels, a knighthood, and long residence in England, Naipaul himself seems to have hardened into a smarter, more successful G, Ramsay Muir.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Book is MUCH better superfuzzy
Discuss The Mystic Masseur (2001) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: