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|“||Bali Mangthi Kali Ma. (Sacrifice is what Mother Kali desires.) Shakthi Degi Kali Ma. (Power is what Mother Kali will grant.) Kali ma… Kali ma… Kali ma, shakthi deh! (Mother Kali… Mother Kali… Mother Kali, give me power!)||„|
|~ Mola Ram's most famous line as he rips out a Hebrew's heart and sacrifices him for Kali.|
|“||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 explaining his world domination plans.|
|“||You don't believe me? You will, Dr. Jones. You will become a true believer.||„|
|~ Mola Ram to Dr. Indiana Jones.|
Mola Ram is the main antagonist of the 1984 action-adventure film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the second installment in the Indiana Jones series.
He was a Thuggee high priest who made Pankot Palace his lair and wanted to use the five Sankara Stones to set up the reign of Kali, Goddess of Death. To that end, Mola Ram enslaved the children of a village that had one of the Stones (the taking of it bringing his total to three). They mine for the other two and for gems to fund his cause in catacombs underneath the palace.
He also brainwashes humans, including local politicians and royalty, with the "blood of Kālī Ma" to make them devout followers (unless they are exposed to extreme pain, like burning). Every now and then, he would sacrifice someone to Kali which involved him strapping them to a metal grate and tearing out the victim's heart while lowering them in a pit of fire and enjoying every minute of it.
Mola Ram was a strong, powerful, influential, and authoritative worshiper 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 villainous Thuggee cult that he leads, and wishes to make them, and himself, all-powerful. This devotion to evil forces is only a fraction of his villainous character and throughout the film, he is shown to be exactly that: a cruel, heartless, sadistic, ruthless, psychopathic, power-hungry and even genocidal man. He enjoys, and is 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, not caring for their mutilation.
Mola Ram is also vile to his own allies, throwing one of them to their death in a crocodile-infested river and chuckling at his death. Mola Ram's ultimate plan is an extremely merciless one, as he is willing to rule the entire world and have his belief be the only one there is, and he is shown to be genocidal, wishing to slaughter the British, other religions and he is straight up willing to kill anyone who stands in his way.
Mola Ram was an Indian man, a fanatical worshipper of Kali and one of the Thuggee. After the British supposedly slaughtered the Thuggee, a Thuggee priest hid the last two of the lost Sankara Stones in the catacombs beneath Pankot Palace. Mola Ram then became the high priest and the leader of the Thuggee cult. In Pankot, Mola Ram found a powerful ally in Chattar Lal, the Prime Minister of Pankot Palace.
Ram poisoned Maharajah Premjit Singh, Pankot's ruler, in 1930 and with Lal's help, brainwashed into serving him the heir: Premjit's young son, Zalim. He managed to claim three of the lost Sankara Stones, one of which from an Indian village, and kidnapped all of the children from the said village, enslaving them and using them to find the final two Sankara Stones as well as precious gems. He and the Thuggee wished to become unstoppable, wipe out the British and other religions and out of devotion to Kali, rule the world.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones, Willie Scott and Short Round came across the village that Mola Ram had stolen from and left to rot. The inhabitants there tasked them to go to Pankot Palace and bring the Sankara Stone stolen, as well as the children, back to them. The trio arrived at Pankot Palace, with Indy suspecting it was the centre of activity for the Thuggee, leading to them discovering the Thuggee and Mola Ram in a Thuggee celebration, watching him sacrifice a victim by pulling out his heart and lowering him into a lava pit, and seeing the Thuggee bring out the three Sankara Stones that they had found.
After the Thuggee left the room, Indy claimed the Sankara Stone Mola Ram had stolen, and came across the kidnapped and enslaved children, only to be caught. After Indiana Jones, Short Round and Willie were captured, Indy was brought before Mola Ram.
Mola Ram revealed his goals to Indy and then had him drink the blood of Kali, turning him into one of them, and had Short Round enslaved with the rest of the children. Mola Ram attempted to sacrifice Willie to Kali, and allowed Indy to do it for him. Indy nearly lowered Willie into the Lava Pit below, but Short Round, who had escaped and was free, returned him to his senses with fire, and they saved Willie and fought against the Thuggee. As Indy faced Mola Ram, Mola Ram escaped down a trapdoor. Indy and the others rescued the children, claimed the Sankara Stones and battled numerous Thuggee, with Mola Ram leading the latter. The trio managed to escape the catacombs via a mine cart.
Indiana Jones eventually confronted Mola Ram on a bridge over a nearby gorge, who had captured Willie and Shorty. Indy threatened to drop the Sankara Stones into the river below, but Mola Ram laughed in his face, stating that they would be found, before ordering his men to kill him. Indy cut the rope holding the bridge up, causing most of the Thuggee to fall into the river to be eaten by crocodiles.
Mola Ram held onto the bridge and fought Indy for a while, before Indiana called upon the God, Shiva, to use the Sankara Stones against the evil cleric. Mola Ram was burned by the Stones and then fell into the river, where he was devoured alive by the crocodiles, putting an end to his days as a Thuggee High Priest once and for all. His remaining men would try to avenge him, but the Eleventh Poona Rifles arrive shortly afterwards and shoot them, killing most of them while the survivors run away for their lives.
Despite that Mola Ram's reign of terror was finally brought to an end for good, the British government was unable to provide any evidence of Mola Ram's demise due to his gruesome fate of being devoured by crocodiles left little to no trace of his remains, and even moving to punish anyone who publicly said otherwise, as rumors began to circulate that Mola Ram's body disappeared from the river. However, Singh and the British were pleased that stories surrounding Mola Ram's ghost haunting the ruins of the flooded Temple of Doom kept others away from the area. On the other hand, Chattar Lal was able to escape with some treasure, but the British kept an eye to preclude Lal from establishing another Temple of Doom.
Mola Ram is mostly liked and is often considered to be the best and most iconic Indiana Jones villain in spite of the mixed reception Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom initially received. UGO ranked Mola Ram as #10 on their "Best 80s Movie Villains" list, stating that Mola Ram is the "biggest badass Indiana Jones ever faced" and that "If you were putting together a team of truly evil dudes, he'd make the list. He's one of the best 80s movie villains, hands down." In his review of the film, Rob Gonsalves called Amrish Puri's performance a "definitive portrait of the higher evil" saying that he "still get chills when Mola Ram moves slowly into frame to face his human sacrifice". However, Jeffrey M. Anderson of Combustible Celluloid called Mola Ram a "silly villain".
Empire called "Amrish Puri's Thuggee leader" "fairly insubstantial". Eye for Film, in their review of the film, stated "Where it does succeed is with Amrish Puri's powerful performance as Mola Ram, ripping still-beating hearts from his victims' chests, an unforgettable screen villain. Puri is more than a match for Harrison Ford as the bold hero, and there are some great scenes between them amid the fairground-style frolics and the seemingly endless fist fights". Screen Junkies ranked Mola Ram as one of the Top 8 Craziest Cult leaders.
WatchPlayRead ranked Mola Ram as #5 on their "Ten Badass Movie Villains You Forgot About" list, saying he "won’t just kill you, he’ll rip your damn heart out!". Ain't It Cool, when responding to Amrish Puri's passing on, praised his performance and character, saying "Puri played Mola Ram with a mad flourish. He always had an insane twinkle in his eye that was almost supernatural. His luring of Indiana Jones to dark cult side is just evil and scary. The man radiated bad vibes in that role. And lets not forget his talent for ripping hearts out of bodies and helping to create the much maligned PG-13 rating" and calling him as Mola Ram a "great supporting character" and a "relish dripping villain" that "most geeks like us" loved.
- Despite that Adolf Hitler is considered the Greater-Scope Villain, Mola Ram is arguably recognized as the most evil villain in the Indiana Jones series. This is because partly due Mola Ram's faith on Kali Ma, leading him to just devote himself into serving his goddess to bring chaos and destruction to the world, sacrifice innocent victims as offerings via ripping off their hearts and dispose of his own men to ensure his well being, even chuckling at the demise of one of them.
- Mola Ram is the only antagonist from the Indiana Jones movies who is not a Nazi nor a Soviet (René Belloq and Walter Donovan, the main antagonists of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, were affiliated with the Nazis while Irina Spalko, the main antagonist from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is a Soviet doctor). Ironically, from all four, Mola Ram is the only Indiana Jones main antagonist whose death was realistic and not far-fetched nor supernatural, being simply devoured by an horde of crocodiles in spite of the magical elements of the character: Belloq was consumed by the holy fire of the Ark of the Covenant until he literally exploded, Donovan aged to death upon drinking from the False Grail and Spalko overloaded with the knowledge of everything given to her by the interdimensional beings until her eyes caught fire and she disintegrated into nothingness.
- When Mola Ram gets eaten by crocodiles, the Wilhelm Scream can be heard.
- It was because of Mola Ram's actions that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is considered to be an extremely dark and brutal film, which is why several critics and even Steven Spielberg himself disliked the film. Spielberg called it "too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific". Additionally the film's tone was related to relationship problems George Lucas had at the time.
- Some fans consider Mola Ram to be somewhat misunderstood given that the Temple of Doom novelization reveals that he was the son of a Thuggee priest, which could mean that Mola Ram was raised his whole life with the purpose of serving Kali Ma, thus just doing what his religion asked for. Some even assume that Mola Ram may have been drugged with the Black Sleep of Kali Ma (much like Indiana Jones) and therefore wasn't responsible for his own actions. However, it seems evident that Mola Ram's Thuggee cell was a highly unorthodox and heretical terrorist organization who enslaved innocent children and was highly divorced of the mainstream Hinduism, which proves that Mola Ram is evil, as well as his lack of care for his subordinates and the pleasure he derides from his actions.
- This can be easily deduced as in real life, Kali is exclusively depicted as a goddess of change and empowerment (Shakti), which means that while she does destroy, she almost always does so in order to effect positive change. Indeed, this is one of the reasons for which Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom drew much criticism on India upon its release due its negative depiction of Kali, which has been adopted after its release in subsequent portrayals in art, media and film.
- It should be noted, however, that Mola Ram is hinted to actually have been under the Black Sleep of Kali Ma in the film's novelization, as when Indy burns him with the Sankara Stone at the end, he wakes up from his hypnosis and falls to his death, possibly indicating that he wasn't aware of his actions throughout the movie. This idea was initially present in the early drafts of the film, but was likely dropped to not make Mola Ram's death look tragic, nor make Indy speculate whether he caused an innocent hypnotized man to fall to his death.
- Related to that, the original script of the film had Mola Ram snapping out of the brainwashed state in the same way as everyone else. This didn't make it to the final film where he merely looks puzzled and confused.
- In some ways, Mola Ram is responsible for the PG-13 content rating type to exist today. Before Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released, the Motion Picture Association of America were going to rate the film R (no one under 17 admitted, unless accompanied) due to the iconic scene where Mola Ram rips off the heart of a living man. However, Steven Spielberg suggested altering the Association's rating system, which coupled with the heart-ripping scene and similar complains about the film Gremlins, resulted in the Association creating the PG-13 rating.
- Michael Eisner appears in an episode of Family Guy playing a similar role to Mola Ram during the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom parody, in which he tries to pull out Peter Griffin's heart, but Peter punches him and sends him falling into the river where he is eaten by crocodiles.
- Mola Ram appears in pony form in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic IDW comic book The Return of Queen Chrysalis, in one of the doors in Queen Chrysalis' castle. Applejack opens his door and he appears with an apple in his hoof saying "Kali Ma!"