Ismail Merchant—the Indian half of the Merchant-Ivory team—directed this low-key but wisely observant 2001 adaptation of V.S. Naipaul’s first novel, about a village masseur whose spiritual guidebooks and reputation as a healer bring him fame and fortune during the 1950s. His rise as a charismatic leader in the Indian community of Trinidad, his championing of his people in the British-controlled legislature, and his ultimate retreat from worldly affairs are narrated by an Oxford-educated Indian man whose childhood depression has been “cured” by the masseur and who’s since become one of his advisers. This detached yet compassionate perspective affords a wry, nonjudgmental look at the blind faith and materialism permeating the superstitious Indian subculture, though the tone becomes more caustic as the hero is stripped of his moral authority through the hypocrisy and corruption of colonial politics. PG, 117 min.