Amar Singh Chamkila: A Celebration of Artistic Integrity and Social Commentary – A Detailed Review

Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra Shine in Imtiaz Ali’s Reflective and Redemptive Biopic of the Slain Punjabi Singer Amar Singh Chamkila


This biographical musical delves into the tragic story of Amar Singh Chamkila, a once-celebrated but ultimately disgraced Punjabi singer. Alongside his wife, Amarjot, Chamkila met a grim fate in the late 1980s, falling victim to masked gunmen. The narrative highlights the ominous threats Chamkila received due to his controversial lyrics, which often objectified women, culminating in his untimely demise. 

Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra lead the cast, portraying the central characters in this poignant reflection on the complexities of fame, artistic expression, and societal backlash. Through their performances, the film offers a compelling glimpse into the life and legacy of a troubled artist whose story remains a haunting chapter in Punjab’s cultural history. The poignant narrative invites introspection on themes of artistic freedom, societal norms, and the human condition.

Who is Amar Singh Chamkila – Base of the narrative

During the 1980s, singer Amar Singh Chamkila, originally named Dhani Ram and hailing from a Dalit Sikh family in Punjab, rose to fame for his raw musical style and provocative lyrics. His songs, which often delved into taboo subjects such as incest and forbidden love, resonated with the rural working class of North India. Tragically, on March 8, 1988, Chamkila and his wife and singing partner, Amarjot, were fatally shot by unknown assailants in Mehsampur while preparing for a performance. The murders, occurring amidst a backdrop of violent insurgency in the state, left behind numerous unanswered questions and theories. This chilling event from Punjab’s turbulent history has been explored in previous cinematic works, including Kabir Singh Chowdhry’s unconventional documentary-fiction “Mehsampur” (2018). Now, Imtiaz Ali, along with his brother Sajid, offers his interpretation of Chamkila’s story in their latest endeavor.

Direction with Imtiaz Ali

Throughout his career, director Imtiaz Ali has often been criticized for the perceived seriousness of his films, cultivating a devoted fan base that mirrors his earnestness. However, in his latest venture, “Amar Singh Chamkila” on Netflix, Ali seems to break free from this pattern, infusing the narrative with a sense of enjoyment rarely seen in his previous works. Despite the lighter tone, the subject matter of the film remains weighty, delving into themes of militancy, artistic integrity, and freedom of expression amidst religious intolerance.

In “Amar Singh Chamkila,” Ali embarks on a journey of self-discovery, exploring the life of the eponymous Punjabi singer and the societal forces that shaped him. Through an outsider’s perspective, the film invites multiple interpretations of Chamkila’s character, challenging viewers to question whether he was a simpleton, a rebel, or something in between. This external gaze allows Ali to delve into the complexities of Chamkila’s motivations, ultimately arriving at his own conclusion about the singer’s legacy.

Ali’s approach to “Amar Singh Chamkila” marks a departure from his previous works, showcasing his willingness to experiment with form and narrative. By reframing Chamkila’s story as a reflection on broader societal issues, Ali crafts a film that is both introspective and thought-provoking. As the director grapples with the legacy of a controversial figure, he also confronts his own understanding of art, freedom, and the responsibilities of storytelling.


Imtiaz Ali, who is well-known for his reflective stories about love and self-discovery, takes a risk on “Amar Singh Chamkila.” Ali strays from his usual approach and immerses himself in a tragic story that tackles issues of prejudice, caste discrimination, bullying in society, and moral policing.

Ali’s concept for “Amar Singh Chamkila” is profound and thought-provoking, evoking strong feelings and encouraging reflection. Viewers are forced to confront difficult realities about society, art, and the human condition via the prism of Chamkila’s story. The movie poses important queries: Does the need to survive shackle us? What constitutes art, and who has the right to assess its value? Is fame worthless without honor? Should people live in constant hate and shame for decisions they made out of necessity? Finally, is it possible to divorce the artist from the work? Ali’s story invites viewers to think critically about these issues and promotes introspective analysis.

Ali’s main protagonists, who are similar to those from his earlier works like “Tamasha,” “Rockstar,” and “Love Aaj Kal,” are frequently rebellious individuals who are seeking independence and meaning in their lives. Chamkila proves to be a deserving heir to these figures, exhibiting tenacity and resolve in the face of social pressure. Rather than being a hero or a villain, he is just a person who refuses to follow social conventions. The film provides a moving commentary on the suppression of sensuality, the politics of religious radicals, and the cancel culture of the past through Chamkila’s journey.

With a running time of two hours and twenty-five minutes, “Amar Singh Chamkila” offers a complex story that is enhanced by its use of genre-hopping and non-linear storytelling. The film’s second half may seem repetitious at points, but Diljit Dosanjh’s rustic singing and AR Rahman’s evocative background score keep it moving forward. Dosanjh gives a subtle and engrossing performance as Chamkila, which is nothing short of extraordinary. Even though Parineeti Chopra makes the movie more endearing, her acting isn’t as good as Dosanjh’s powerful performance.

The movie avoids endorsing or defending Chamkila’s conduct, despite his contentious reputation. Rather, it provides a forum for him to speak, telling his narrative as a symphonic tale of social position, shame, and survival. Ali encourages audiences to delve into a provocative investigation of art, society, and the intricacies of the human experience via Chamkila’s story.

As such, “Amar Singh Chamkila” is proof of Imtiaz Ali’s capacity to go beyond the bounds of traditional narrative. With its gripping story, outstanding acting, and striking images, the movie stands as a potent example of the cinema’s ongoing ability to disturb, inspire, and amuse audiences.


In “Amar Singh Chamkila,” Imtiaz Ali presents a biopic that goes beyond traditional storytelling norms. Through Chamkila’s narrative, Ali prompts viewers to confront societal realities, artistic expression, and human complexities, urging them to reassess their own perspectives. With its captivating storyline, exceptional acting, and visually striking scenes, “Amar Singh Chamkila” showcases cinema’s ability to stir emotions, provoke thoughts, and captivate audiences.

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