Chattar Lal was the Prime Minister of Pankot in 1935 and a secret Thuggee member.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Well-spoken and outwardly demure, Chattar Lal seemed to have the makings of an able politician. He was a graduate of Oxford University and served as Prime Minister to Maharajah Zalim Singh. As the Maharajah was still a minor, it was largely apparent that Lal took care of most of the day-to-day operations of the region. However, Lal was secretly a fanatical member of the murderous Thuggee, devoted to worshiping Kali Ma with human sacrifice. Through regularly administered doses of psychotropic drugs, he subjugated the young Maharajah, thus allowing the Thuggee to operate with impunity inside Pankot until 1935, when Indiana Jones, on a mission to recover the Sankara Stone for the people of Mayapore, appeared outside the Pankot Palace gates.[2]

Lal greeted Jones and his friends at the palace, and conversed with Jones on the subject of the Thuggee while at a state dinner headed by the young maharajah. At first he dismissed reports of the Thuggee cult as stories Jones may have picked up from his time spent at the village, but when Jones persisted, Lal became outright defensive, recalling some of the archaeologist's disreputable past escapades. Jones, realizing the inappropriateness of criticizing his hosts, apologized for shooting his mouth off, but not before the Maharajah made a sympathetic statement that at one time there were indeed Thuggees in his kingdom and their like would not return under his rule.[2]

Later, as Jones, Short Round, and Willie Scott discovered the Temple of Doom below Pankot Palace, Lal was present in his Thuggee worshiping attire. After Jones was forced to drink from the Chalice of Kali, Lal assisted in the main temple. When Short Round escaped from slavery and arrived to rescue Jones, Lal fought with the liberated Jones, and briefly undid Jones' effort to raise the cage containing the sacrifice victim, Willie Scott. Despite wielding a large knife, Lal was defeated, thrown over the large wheel controlling the winch, and was seriously crushed by the wheel, which stopped, keeping Scott from being lowered in to the fiery pit. Lal's body was moved out from under the wheel, so that Jones could re-raise Scott to safety. However, while Jones and Short Round helped free Scott, Lal apparently made his getaway.[2]

Though injured in the battle, Lal escaped the palace with a good amount of stolen treasure. The British then kept a vigilant eye out for Lal should he try to establish another Kali temple.[3][4]

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Chattar Lal was played by veteran actor Roshan Seth in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.[2] Seth had recently come out of retirement from acting having given it up to write a journal, but accepted the role following his work on the 1982 film Gandhi and a David Hare play.[5] Seth later went on to play Sheikh Kamal for The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones TV movie Tales of Innocence.[6]

Indiana Jones fighting Chattar Lal in a deleted scene.

During the development of the film's script, written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, there was a scene in which Willie Scott would try to inform Lal and Phillip James Blumburtt that the secret tunnel in her room leads to the Thuggee temple. However, Lal and later Indiana Jones, under the influence of the Black Sleep of the Kali Ma, dismiss her claims and Blumburtt leaves the palace with his men.[7] Director Steven Spielberg opted to cut the scene after Harrison Ford herniated a disc on his back, rendering him unavailable to shoot it.[5]

In a scene cut from the film, Lal attempts to attack Jones in the Thuggee cavern but is knocked into the lava pit, killing him.[5] This is why the defeated Lal is absent from the background of the finished film.[2] Although not seen in the film, Lal's fate and the above mentioned deleted scene are included in James Kahn's novelization,[8] the storybook[9] and comic adaptations.[10]

While Chattar Lal's role in the film's novelization, comic and storybook adaptation is the largely same as in the film, the Read-Along Adventures' adaptation reduced his involvement considerably. Instead, Lal only welcomes Indiana Jones and his friends to Pankot Palace and later disappears without an explanation from the narrative.[11]

In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, Indy and Short Round must rescue Willie Scott and defeat Lal whose body bursts into LEGO pieces when Indy triggers the heated floors Lal is standing on.[12] In the sequel, however, Lal is absent on most home consoles but still available to play in the portable versions.[13]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

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