Amar Singh Chamkila is a sensitive and nuanced biopic that showcases the life of the musician of the same name.

Born on July 21, 1960, Amar Singh Chamkila rose to fame in the early ’80s. He was known for his vast array of vocals and vivid language.

He is regarded as one of the most influential Punjabi musicians.

Tragically, Chamkila and his wife – the singer Amarjot – were assassinated on March 8, 1988. Chamkila was only 27 years old.

In Imtiaz Ali’s film, Diljit Dosanjh staggeringly brings Chamkila to life and finds an anchor in a terrific Parineeti Chopra, who inhabits the world of Amarjot.

The film was released on Netflix on April 12, 2024.

However, just as Chamkila has carved an indelible mark on millions of hearts, has his biopic done the same for Bollywood fans?

Let’s delve into the film and determine whether to watch Amar Singh Chamkila.

An Inspiring Story

'Amar Singh Chamkila' Review_ A Victory for Diljit Dosanjh - An Inspiring StoryThose familiar with Chamkila’s story turn on their Netflix screens hoping for a film that will do justice to his saga.

Amar Singh Chamkila is utterly inspiring in that it narrates his story with rawness and sensitivity.

Chamkila’s journey from a simple man who knits socks for a living to a famous musician embodies the human spirit that millions can relate to.

In one scene, Chamkila rushes onto the stage during a show due to the absence of the scheduled performer.

People want him to use a stage name as they feel his actual name does not sound like a singer’s identity.

To this, he innocently replies: “But that is my name.”

The film is full of relatable statements like this. Chamkila can be innocent and shy, but at the same time, he is resolute and determined.

His duets with his wife Amarjot evoke tremendous nostalgia in the older demographic of the audience.

At the same time, fresh viewers are introduced to some classic Punjabi tracks.

You may well be humming ‘Mitran Main Khand Ban Gai‘ long after the ending credits have rolled.

However, there are some portions of the film that appear rushed. The film does not give us enough time to get to know Chamkila before his singing career takes off.

The film does not show his knitting profession too much and therefore creates a missed opportunity for comparison. This could have led to stronger empathy for the character.

We also know that Chamkila and Amarjot marry to create more ease in performing duets, but the film does not fully explore the romance or affection between them.

If strengthened, these factors could have improved the plot but Amar Singh Chamkila can hold the audience even if the screenplay appears a bit scattered.

Sterling Performances

'Amar Singh Chamkila' Review_ A Victory for Diljit Dosanjh - Sterling PerformancesParineeti Chopra

The real driving forces of the film are the sterling performances of its two leads.

Parineeti Chopra portrays Amarjot marvellously well.

She enters the film as a timid, sheltered young woman who uses music as an outlet.

Amarjot is a force to reckon with on stage. This brashness and her tender devotion to her loved ones is a charming juxtaposition.

Viewers can instantly relate to the anguish and sorrow when the assailants shoot Amarjot dead.

Delving into the reason she signed to do the film, Parineeti explains:

“One of the main reasons I did this film was because I was getting to sing some 15 songs for it.

“It was during this film that my co-star Diljit heard me sing and told me to pursue live performances.

“Everyone around me used to constantly put this thought in my head that I could be on stage.

“It is an exciting challenge to take. I will work hard.”

This commendable work ethic is evident in Amar Singh Chamkila, with Parineeti delivering a career-defining performance.

Diljit Dosanjh

But at the heart of the film is an incredible performance by Diljit Dosanjh, who practically disappears underneath the skin of Chamkila.

Diljit imbues the character with steely grit and heart-warming innocence.

Chamkila’s drive to succeed and make something of himself is what the film showcases, and Diljit underlines that ethos unforgettably.

In a review of the film, Anupama Chopra praises Diljit’s casting.

She says: “Imtiaz’s masterstroke is casting Diljit Dosanjh as Chamkila.

“Diljit brings to the role an innocence and vulnerability.”

“The lyrics Chamkila wrote might have been lewd, but the man himself was gentle, affectionate and as another character says, almost servile to his audience.”

While appearing on The Great Indian Kapil Show in 2024, Imtiaz Ali divulged into Shah Rukh Khan’s kind words for Diljit.

He said: “Shah Rukh Khan told me, ‘The best actor in the country is Diljit’.

“If Diljit had declined this role, then maybe the film would have never been made.

“We have been very lucky. We couldn’t have had a better cast. Both of them.”

Diljit Dosanjh is outstanding as Chamkila. He is the axis around which the film runs.

 Direction & Execution

Diljit Dosanjh to Work with Imtiaz Ali & AR RahmanBollywood fans love Imtiaz Ali for directing the drama-comedy Jab We Met (2007).

However, he has not had the best run with box office failures like Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017) and Love Aaj Kal (2020).

With Amar Singh Chamkila, the director puts himself firmly back in the league of talented filmmakers.

The film is a canvas of emotional storytelling, but to narrate such a historic saga convincingly, a skilled director was essential.

Imtiaz does not just narrate Chamkila’s story – he showcases it.

Beautiful cinematography and slick editing adorn the film.

However, what does not work as well are the massive subtitles that protrude on the screen when Chamkila and Amarjot are performing.

Subtitles are necessary as the lyrics are in hardcore Punjabi that only fluent Punjabi speakers would understand.

However, due to the font size and colour, they do distract the iconography and this can get exhausting at times.

Furthermore, the romance of the two leads is just bundled into one song and the story is shown as the aftermath of their deaths.

More reaction to their demises could have underscored their popularity in the music scene in a bolder way.

The film also uses arguably too much imagery and video clips of the real singers. In some instances, they are positioned too close to the shots in the film.

This can appear confusing for the audience, making the motion picture almost seem like a documentary.

One of the key strengths is AR Rahman’s fantastic score.

The composer, known for genius soundtracks in Rangeela (1995), Lagaan (2001) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008), adds another winning album to his repertoire of masterpieces.

There probably could not have been a better choice for this film.

Amar Singh Chamkila is a scintillating film containing two performances for the ages.

At a run time of approximately two and a half hours, the film can be simplistic in places.

But what holds the viewer is the spirit of the story and a terrific soundtrack that blends real chartbusters with an arrangement of melodious compositions.

Chamkila’s story is one that will inspire viewers  – old and new.

The film is undoubtedly an intricate look into the making of two legendary musicians, whose lives are unfortunately cut short due to the politics of greed and envy.

It is a movie that everyone involved in the making should feel proud of.

With the film available to stream on Netflix, brace yourself for an entertaining watch.

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