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"You've betrayed Shiva!"
Indiana Jones[src]

High Priest Mola Ram was the leader of the revived Thuggee cult in 1935. He and his subordinates operated out of Pankot Palace controlling the Maharajah Zalim Singh with the Black Sleep of the Kali Ma.


The son of a Thuggee priest who had survived the British attempt to eradicate the cult, Mola Ram emigrated from Bengal to Pankot in search of three Sankara Stones.[2] With two already in his possession, Ram believed all five would empower the Thuggee to destroy their British persecutors and establish his goddess Kali Ma's reign on Earth. In Pankot, he found a powerful ally in Chattar Lal, the Prime Minister of Pankot Palace. Ram poisoned Pankot's ruler, Maharajah Premjit Singh in 1930 and with Lal's help, subdued the heir: Premjit's young son, Zalim. The pair restored the palace's long-neglected Kali temple, and set up a mining operation beneath the palace, with the intent of locating the remaining stones.[1]

Most of the Temple of Doom's veteran guards and Thuggee priests came along with Mola Ram when the temple was reestablished.[3] After stealing one of the stones — known as the Shiva Linga — from the village of Mayapore, Mola Ram's plans were thrown into disarray in 1935 by the American archaeologist Indiana Jones and his companions Willie Scott and Short Round. The inhabitants there tasked them to go to Pankot Palace and retrieve the Shive Linga, as well as their kidnapped children, who had been taken to work in the mines.[1] Ram assigned his most senior priests with selling the diamonds the Mayapore children obtained.[3]

Mola Ram holding his victim's heart.

The trio arrived at Pankot Palace, with Indy aware that it was once the center of activity for the Thuggee, leading to them discover the resurgent cult and witnessed Mola Ram's Thuggee ceremony during which he sacrificed a victim by pulling out his heart and lowering him into a lava pit.[1]

When the Thuggee left the chamber, Indy tried to claim the Sankara Stones, which had been brought out during the ritual, but discovered the enslaved children, only to be captured himself after defending one from the Chief Guard. After Indiana Jones, Short Round and Willie were caught, Indy was brought before Mola Ram who revealed his goals to Indy and then had him drink the blood of Kali, turning him into one of them, and had Short Round imprisoned with the rest of the children. Mola Ram then spoke with Willie, who was terrified due the present situation.[1] However, Ram was just messing with the singer's head.[4] He was attempting to sacrifice her much like his previous victim, locking her in the same cage he previously used and directed Indy to carry out the task but as she was lowered into the lava pit below, the escaping Short Round returned Jones to his senses with fire, and they saved Willie and fought against the Thuggee. As Indy faced Mola Ram, the high priest escaped down a trapdoor. Indy and the others rescued the children, claimed the Sankara Stones and battled numerous Thuggee under Mola Ram's command as the three fled the catacombs via a mine cart.[1]

Mola Ram and his followers pursued them to a narrow rope bridge, where they had the trio cornered. As one of Ram's henchmen held Willie hostage, Jones demanded she be released but Mola Ram refused, confident that he had the upper hand. Jones then threatened to drop the Sankara Stones into the river below. Ram called his bluff, declaring that the stones would be found, but Jones surprised Mola Ram by cutting the bridge, a move which sent many of the Thuggee warriors to their deaths in the crocodile infested waters.[1]

The demise of Mola Ram.

Mola Ram clung to the remnants of the bridge, however, and continued his battle against Jones, even going so far as throwing one of his own surviving men off the bridge in an attempt to dislodge the archaeologist. As Mola Ram and Jones struggled for control the stones, Jones' invocation of Shiva caused the stones to glow red hot. The move caught Ram off guard. As he tried to take one of the Sankara Stones, it burned his hand and made him lose his balance. Mola Ram lost his grip on the bridge, and fell into the river below, where the crocodiles shredded his body and devoured him.[1]


Following Mola Ram's demise, people searched the river and found no signs of his body. Rumors began to circulate that his body had disappeared from the river and, despite statements by the British that the High Priest was dead, they were unable to provide any evidence to prove it, moving to punish anyone who publicly said otherwise. Maharajah Singh also publicly declared Mola Ram deceased and offered $2,500 to anyone that could provide proof or information on who might have taken the body.[3]

However, the stories circulating that Mola Ram haunted the ruins of the flooded "Temple of Doom" pleased both parties, as Singh and the colonial authorities were keen on keeping others away from the area. The British kept an eye out in order to prevent Lal from creating another Temple of Doom like the one Ram ran.[3]

Upon being informed about Indy's exploits in retrieving the Sankara Stones, the French mercenary archaeologist René Emile Belloq came to like Mola Ram due his attempts to kill Jones and wished he could have been present on the bridge battle to aid the Thuggee in killing his rival.[5]

Personality and traits[]

"The British in India will be slaughtered. Then we will overrun the Muslims. Then the Hebrew God will fall, and then the Christian God will be cast down and forgotten. Soon, Kali Ma will rule the world."
―Mola Ram[src]

Mola Ram was a strong worshipper of the Hindu Goddess of Death, Kali, and was devoted to conquering the world and ruling it in her name. He was also highly devoted to the Thuggee cult that he led, and wished to make them, and himself, all-powerful. He showed himself to be a cruel, heartless, sadistic, ruthless, psychopathic, power hungry and even genocidal man. He enjoyed, and was happy to cause, the suffering of others, sacrificing innocents in horrific ways, torturing his enemies and brainwashing them into becoming his subordinates, and even kidnapping innocent children and enslaving them to support his cause. Mola Ram also disregarded his own allies, throwing one of them to his death and even chuckling at his demise.[1]

Behind the scenes[]

Mola Ram was portrayed by the late Amrish Puri in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Stuntman Frank Henson served as Puri's double for the scene of the bridge collapsing.[6] Puri was working on two Bollywood productions when he was offered the role of Mola Ram, so production had to adjust the shooting time in London and India to enable Puri to play Ram.[7] Though he is the main antagonist, Mola Ram does not appear until an hour into the film. The character is named after an 18th-century Indian painter.

In early drafts of the story, the burning Sankara Stones actually release Mola Ram from the same Black Sleep of the Kali Ma he inflicts on Indiana Jones before falling to his death, hinting that he may not have been in control of his actions. It was also intended that Mola Ram, after falling from the bridge, be killed by landing on the rocky embankment below, followed by the crocodiles tearing apart his corpse.[8] Although cut from the film, it's depicted in James Kahn's novelization and comic book adaptations.

When Mola Ram is eaten, the Wilhelm scream can be heard.

Mola Ram's ceremonial headdress.

George Lucas wanted Mola Ram to be terrifying, so the screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz added elements of Aztec and Hawaiian human sacrificers, and European devil worship, to the character. To create his headdress, make-up artist Tom Smith based the skull on a cow (as this would be sacrilegious) with a latex shrunken head. Puri was chosen as Spielberg and Lucas did not want to cast a European actor and apply dark make-up. In the role, Puri resembles Eduardo Ciannelli, who played the cult leader in Gunga Din, an inspiration for the film.

There were plans by Hasbro in 2009 for a 12" action figure of Mola Ram. However, the toyline was cancelled before one could be made.[9]

In the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom arcade game, Mola Ram (who is never depicted without his ceremonial headdress) attacks Indy by throwing flaming hearts at him in stages where the player needs to take a Sankara Stone from the Temple of Doom. In the bridge stage, neither Ram nor his Thuggee guards survive Jones' collapsing of the rope bridge and they fall straight into the river (without showing any crocodiles). As in the film, Jones manages to cling to hold on to part of the bridge, which he uses to climbs up to reunited with Willie Scott and Short Round at the top.[10] In the video game Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures, while he briefly appears during the story, he is never seen at the bridge stage (in which the bridge is never collapsed by Jones), but a similar character (or maybe him with another design), a Thuggee priest with red robes, appears to battle Indy at the end of the bridge, but Indy defeats him via whiping him to death.[11]

While LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures covers the plot points of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in broad strokes: Mola Ram still performs a sacrifice, topples the cistern to flood the mines and is defeated by Indiana Jones on the broken bridge.[12] The game's sequel, however, takes a more liberal approach. LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues depicts Mola Ram and Maharajah Zalim Singh stealing the three Sankara Stones from Mayapore in Jones's presence. When Singh is returned to his senses, Ram uses the Black Sleep of the Kali Ma to animate and take control of the temple's large stone statue of Kali. The pair are led down to the rope bridge and the statue is eventually destroyed with Jones, the Maharajah, Short Round and Willie Scott escaping across the bridge in possession of the Sankara Stones. Mola Ram attempts to give chase wielding the Kali statue's head but the bridge collapses under their weight and Ram falls to his doom.[13]

Mola Ram makes a cameo appearance in LEGO Star Wars: Bombad Bounty as one of the patrons of the Mos Eisley cantina. He can be seen bobbing his head to the cantina band's music until Han Solo shoots Greedo. Jar Jar Binks attempts to clean up afterwards but loses control of his vacuum cleaner and sucks Mola Ram as he attempts to flee.[14]


Non-canon appearances[]


Notes and references[]

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