According to an oral history compiled by Paul Bullock on the making of the movie, the production had to adjust to the Bollywood method of filmmaking. Scheduling the hours of actor Amrish Puri, who plays the heart-extracting baddie Mola Ram, proved to be a major headache. As producer Robert Watts recalled:
“This was something I had never before come up against. The Indian film industry operates in a manner that would drive me stark raving mad. The actors work sometimes two or even three shifts a day, four-hour shift. And they may work on two or three different films; they’ll be in one in the morning and another in the afternoon. In the end, we had four different visits from Amrish (one in Sri Lanka, three in London). He had to juggle around all his Indian commitments to do this movie. It wasn’t easy.”
Was Puri worth the trouble? Absolutely. His Mola Ram is the most terrifying villain in the Indiana Jones series. He could’ve easily decamped to Hollywood, but he remained in India, where he worked steadily until his death in 2005.
Can you imagine a method actor like Marlon Brando or Dustin Hoffman making two or three movies at the same time? You can’t because these filmmakers would never be able to accommodate the former’s flakiness or the latter’s deep-tissue immersion into an individual character. It’s a quirk of culture, one that clearly works well for these two very different industries.