Study Guide

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Mola Ram (Amrish Puri)

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Mola Ram (Amrish Puri)


Mola Ram didn't choose the Thuggee Life, the Thuggee Life chose him. Mola Ram comes from a cult of people who killed between 50,000 and 1,000,000 people. Yes—there actually was a Thuggee cult. And yes, its members were referred to as Thugs. (Source)

The cult was suppressed by British colonial rule in the 1820's, and was totally eradicated by the 1870's. And yes—it's super-telling that The Temple of Doom chose to focus on the Thuggees. By telling a story about a group of criminals whose activity was quelled under the British Raj, Temple of Doom manages to portray the white colonists as good guys and make the #1 villain in this flick an Indian.

But we discuss all that in our "Why Should I Care" section. Let's more on to what makes Mola Ram tick.

Mola Ram, a guy who is clearly just angry because his makeup artists went overboard on his smoky eye, wants to restore the Thuggee to their previous glory. But despite his rich, historical background, Mola Ram is a pretty unoriginal villain. He wants to recover some mystical artifacts that will give him the power to take over the world.

Mola, sweetie, we've heard that one before from pretty much every bad guy ever.

Here's his specific plan.

MOLA RAM: 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.

So he wants to extend the Thuggee reach beyond India and to the entire world. We said he was unoriginal…but we never said he wasn't ambitious.


Unlucky for the future of the Thuggee (but lucky for Indy & Co.), Mola Ram is as effective as he is original—i.e. not very.

Dig his watertight plan:

MOLA RAM: Soon we will have all the five Sankara stones, and the Thuggees will be all powerful.

We have a feeling he's missing a few steps in this grand scheme. It can't be as simple as recover a few rocks, then take over the world, can it?

Mola Ram—who doesn't appear until an hour and two minutes into the movie—never quite fits in, either in this movie or in the Indy-verse. In a movie franchise that's known for having white, totalitarian villains, Mola Ram sticks out like a Snake Surprise.

Also—how exactly does Indy know who he is? At one point, Indy just calls him Mola Ram, but how did Indy glean that info? Did they exchange business cards off camera?

The meat of Mola Ram's plan lies in child labor. Not only does he have kids working in the mines, but he has brainwashed a young Maharaja into doing his bidding. When Indy liberates the children, Mola Ram's whole plan disintegrates. Even if he were to kill Indy and recover the stones, he still needs two more…and we doubt Mr. Ram is going to dig for them himself.

We'll give him credit where credit is due, though: bro knows how to accessorize. Not only is he wearing a great big honking skull on his head, but that skull has a shrunken head on it. Maximalism is back, folks.

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