In the early 1980's Merchant first set in motion a project of which he had long dreamed, and that he was to do outside of his usual collaboration with Jhabvala and Ivory, the making of The Deceivers. The Deceiversis adapted from the John Masters novel, set in India in 1825, which depicts the exploits of William Savage (based on William Sleeman of the Indian Political Service), who disguises himself as an Indian in order to expose and destroy a secret cult whose members, the infamous Thugees, ritually murdered and robbed travelers in the name of the goddess Kali. Merchant had read the novel years before, been struck by it, and later decided to film it. The movie was slow in getting into production, however, and once into that stage presented such an array of problems as to stagger even Merchant. An entire book, Hullabaloo in Old Jeypore: The Making of "The Deceivers", was needed for Merchant to set down all that occurred.
Cast: Pierce Brosnan (William Savage), Saeed Jaffrey (Hussein), Shashi Kapoor (Chandra Singh), Helena Michell (Sarah Wilson), Keith Michell (Colonel Wilson), David Robb (George Angelsmith), Tariq Yunus (Feringea), Julal Agha (Nawab), Gary Cady (Lieutenant Maunsell), Salim Ghouse (Piroo), Neena Gupta (Widow), Nayeem Hafizka (Sepoy), Bijoya Jena (Harlot), H. N. Kalla (Nawab's Servant), Kammo (Official), Goga Kapoor (Sher Dil), Manmohan Krishna (Old Rajput), Harish Magon (Sepoy), Manmaujee (Ferryman), Giles Masters (Captain Devril), Ramesh Ranga (Rajput's Son ), Dilip Singh Rathore (Sowar), Hilla Sethna (Chandra Singh's Maidservant), R. P. Sondhi (Prisoner), Kanwaljit (Gopal), Shanmukha Scrinivas (Hira Lal), Dalip Tahil (Daffadar Ganesha), Tim Van Rellim (Reverend Matthias), Rajesh Vivek (Priest), Amin, Akbar Bakshi, Ramesh Goyal, Kaushel, Haroon Khan, Nilesh Malhotra (Thugs)