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"That's the Maharajah? A kid?"
Willie Scott[src]

His Supreme Highness, the Maharajah of Pankot, Zalim Singh was the thirteen-year-old son of Premjit Singh and the prince who ruled over the province of Pankot around 1935.

Biography[]

Early life[]

"I have heard the evil stories of the Thuggee cult. I thought the stories were told to frighten children. Later, I learnt the Thuggee cult was once real and did of unspeakable things. I am ashamed of what happened here so many years ago, and I assure you this will never happen again in my kingdom."
―Zalim Singh[src]

Zalim Singh was born in 1922,[2] the son of the Pankot Province Maharaja Premjit Singh.[3] He was educated by an English tutor in preparation for his reign as Maharajah of Pankot Province,[2] allowing him to possesses a fairly good understanding of Indian and British history, culture, and the state of the relationship between the two countries.[3] While still a child, Singh ascended to the throne following the death of his father Premjit in 1930.[2] Due to his age, the young Zalim relied on his advisor Chattar Lal, Oxford University graduate and Prime Minister of Pankot, leading Lal to take care of most ofthe day-to-day operation over the region.[1]

If encountered at an official function, Singh appeared bored by matters of state,[1] and would much prefer to be out riding one of the several Arabian horses in the Royal Stables, or tending the exotic menagerie of animals and birds he maintains in the palace's inner courtyard.[3]

Unknown to everyone, Singh was secretly controlled by his devious Lal, who was secretly a fanatical member of the murderous Thuggee cult led by High Priest Mola Ram. To be able to use the Maharajah's authority to hide the Thuggee beneath Pankot Palace,[1] Lal regularly administered doses of psychotropic drugs, which allowed him to subjugate Zalim,[3] allowing the Thugge to operate with impunity behind the shadows.[1] He was trained in the making of voodoo dolls and fetishes.[3]

Encounter with Indiana Jones[]

In 1935, at the urging of his prime minister, Singh hosted the Guardian of Tradition Dinner at Pankot Palace to raise the status of Pankot among its neighboring principalities, and many dignitaries and merchants were invited. Several unexpected guests arrived and were also brought to the banquet: Captain Phillip James Blumburtt and the American archaeologist Indiana Jones. At dinner, both men discussed the possibility of a Thuggee revival, and Singh spoke up to proclaim that the Thuggee were a thing of the past, insisting to his subjects that his kingdom would never grant asylum to the cult. However, he was unaware that Lal had been drugging his drinks to make him a participant in the rituals that occurred at the Kali temple hidden beneath his palace.[1]

Later, the entranced Singh was responsible for torturing Jones by piercing a kryta doll in his likeness with a pin while the archaeologist was foiling the chief Thuggee guard. When Short Round, Indy's sidekick, noticed Singh disabling Jones with the doll, he climbed up to the Maharajah's vantage point and eventually restrained him. Shorty removed the pin from the doll, allowing Jones to continue fighting the guard (who ultimately met his end in a rock crusher). Shorty delivered several blows to Singh, but the Maharajah shoved him away by stabbing his turban's plum feather into his shoulder and drew a knife to finally kill him. Short Round grabbed a nearby torch and thrust it into the Maharajah, who cried out in pain and fell to the ground. However, the pain from the burn freed Singh from the Black Sleep of the Kali Ma and the grateful Maharajah, though ashamed of himself, gave Shorty directions for escaping the mines.[1]

Anxious to further redeem himself for his actions, Singh made his own escape from the mines, contacted Captain Blumburtt and his men, and led them to the bridge leading from the palace where the rest of the Thuggee were attempting to kill Indiana Jones after Mola Ram's death. After the cultists were dealt with, Singh bowed to Shorty in thanks, which was returned with a wave of Shorty's cap.[1] Afterwards, Singh offered a $2,500 rewards to anyone who could provide Ram's death due to rumors of his possible survival due to there being no traces of his body, but ultimately, the urban legends about Ram's ghost haunting the Temple of Doom pleased Singh and the British becuase it would allow them to keep others away from the area.[3]

Legacy[]

A much elder Jones would list his torture with voodoo at Singh's hands to his goddaughter Helena Shaw in 1969 as one of the craziest things he had experienced through his adventurous lifetime during their hunt for the Antikythera.[4]

Behind the scenes[]

Zalim Singh was portrayed by actor Raj Singh in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.[1]

During the development of the film's script, written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, the Maharajah was going to receive whip training from Indiana Jones, but due to his inexperience, would cut himself in the cheek. Later, in the Temple of Kali, Singh would cut Indy's chin as revenge. However, this was removed, and the explanation of why Indy has a scar was later revealed in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade's prologue.[5][6]

In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, Singh refills the Chief Guard's health with the Black Sleep of the Kali Ma during the guard's fight with Indiana Jones. However, after being defeated by Short Round, the Maharajah awakens from the Black Sleep.[7] In LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, Singh helps Mola Ram to steal the Sankara Stones from Mayapore personally. After he awakens from the Black Sleep, the Maharajah helps Indy and his allies during the bridge battle.[8] Despite his presence in both LEGO games, Singh was never actually released in the sets released in 2008 and 2009.[9] However, whe the line was relaunched in 2023, Singh was apparently planned to be released in the new version of The Temple of Doom set before the set was cancelled.[10]

Appearances[]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

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