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.
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.
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.
Behind the scenes
In earlier versions of the film's script, written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, Lal attempts to attack Jones in the Thuggee cavern but is knocked into the lava pit, dying in the process. Although this scene was cut from the finished film, this fate for Lal is included in the film's novelization and Marvel's comic book adaptation.
While Chattar Lal's role in the film's novelization, comic and storybook adaptation is the same as in the film, the Read-Along Adventures' adaptation reduced his role considerably. Instead, Lal only welcomes Indiana Jones and his friends to Pankot Palace and later dissappears without an explanation from the narrative.
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. In the game's sequel, however, Lal is absent on most consoles but still available to play in the PSP version.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (First appearance)
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom novel
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom comic
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Storybook
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (Non-canonical appearance) (PSP version)
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: The Illustrated Screenplay
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Sourcebook
- Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide