"That's the Maharajah? A kid?"―Willie Scott[src]
Zalim Singh was born in 1922. He was educated by an English tutor in preparation for his reign as Maharajah of Pankot Province. While still a child, Singh ascended to the throne following the death of his father Premjit in 1930.
Singh was secretly controlled by his devious prime minister Chattar Lal who was a member of the Thuggee cult. 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 Blumburtt and 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.
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 and drew a knife. Short Round grabbed a nearby torch and thrust it into the Maharajah who let out a scream of extreme pain. However, 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.
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 the cultists were dealt with, Singh bowed to Shorty in thanks, which was returned with a wave of Shorty's cap.
Behind the scenes
During the development of the film's script, written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, the Maharajah was going to 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.
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. 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.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom novel
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom comic
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (Non-canonical appearance)
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: The Illustrated Screenplay
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Sourcebook
- Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide