The Man Who Would Be King opens with author Rudyard Kipling (Christopher Plummer) working in his study. His solitude is broken by the arrival of a tattered, half-mad derelict, who is soon revealed to be his old acquaintance Peachy Carnahan (Michael Caine). As Kipling listens in rapt fascination, Peachy relates the incredible adventures of himself and his partner-in-chicanery Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery). Con men Carnahan and Dravot have masterminded all sorts of underhanded money-making schemes, the most elaborate of which takes them to a remote city in the hills of eastern Afghanistan. Here, through methods both foul and fair, Daniel passes himself off as the incarnation of Alexander the Great, the better to lay his hands on the vast riches all around him. Unfortunately, Daniel begins to believe his own lies, and the results are disastrous for both himself and Peachy. Inadvertently exposing Daniel's scheme is his native wife, played by Shakira Caine (Michael Caine's real-life wife).