Set in 1940s Trinidad amid an immigrant Hindu community, Ismail Merchant's most recent picture is stunning to behold, but difficult to enjoy. Based on Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul's cautionary 1957 tale, the film follows the evolution of the ambitious Ganesh (Aasif Mandvi) from writer to mystic to politician. A menagerie of vivid characters, including his belching aunt (Zohra Segal) and conniving father-in-law (Om Puri), color his somewhat dreary ascent. It's just too bad an unfocused plot and sluggish pace obscure such noteworthy performances.