Based on ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ by Rudyard Kipling.
Kipling’s short story, about two ne’er-do-well English soldiers in India who seek fame and fortune in the mountains of Afghanistan, was made into a classic movie directed by John Huston and starring Michael Caine and Sean Connery, both of whom rank it among their very best.
TWO rascally former soldiers in the British Army, Danny Dravot and Peachey Carnehan, arrived one day in the cramped offices of a newspaper in Lahore. The sole correspondent remembered them as two fellow-freemasons, for whom he had recently done a small favour.
India, they complained, was too small a country for them. They were going to Kafiristan,* to become kings. They even produced a contract for the bemused journalist to witness, forbidding drink and womanising, and pledging steadfast loyalty.
Next day, after they had ridden off dressed as a garrulous priest and his servant, and carrying twenty top-notch rifles, he put the absurd business out of his mind.
Three summers later, as he was waiting anxiously for news from Europe at 3am, he turned to see a dirty, crippled beggar at the door. “I’ve returned” the wretch kept saying; and then, “Kings we were, with crowns upon our heads — me and Dravot — poor Dan — oh, poor, poor Dan.”
* A real place in northwest Afghanistan, more or less where Nuristan Province now lies. Historically pagan, it was converted to Islam at the point of a sword in 1896.