Amar Singh Chamkila movie review: An astute study

Amar Singh Chamkila movie review: An astute study

Amar Singh Chamkila movie review: An astute study

What: Films made by Imtiaz Ali may not attract you instantly – they rather grow on you with the passage of time. His films like Rockstar, Tamasha, Highway or even Jab Harry Met Sejal centre around fractured souls seeking liberation and self-discovery. There is a strong undercurrent of agony and anguish which defines his characters, who leave an indelible mark in your memory.

Amar Singh Chamkila movie review

Amar Singh Chamkila, is a heartfelt biopic where the astute filmmaker delves into the life of the musician and his rise in the world of Punjabi music. He registered a staggering sale of his records, no one has been as popular as Chamkila since then in Punjab.

The film starts with a shock.1988 Mehsampur, Punjab. Chamkila (played by Diljit Dosanjh) and his wife, Amarjot Kaur (Parineeti Chopra) are gunned down by unidentified people. The untimely and grievous death triggers a probe into his controversial stint with raunchy lyrics and sleazy songs underlined by hooting vulgarity that had created a stir in the hoi polloi.


The narrative alternates with the past and present, revealing how Chamkila, who was an ordinary knitter in the socks factory and belonged to the lower strata of the society, rose to fame, inch by inch. After a fallout with an orchestra owner, he started his own troupe on the street with the help of Tikka (Anjum Batra), his drummer for rest of his life and his partner, Amarjot who joins after a lady refuses to sing the filthy lyrics.

Imu examines Chamkila’ s life with passion, precision, and depth. With an immaculate period, recreation, he gets the basics of the rural setting perfect. The story progresses with a thriving juxtaposition between the reel and real footages from the historical archives. When Chamkila and Amarjot sing, the lyrics (penned by Irshad Kamil) are rendered in myriad colours on the screen. A R Rehman’s music lends a unique dimension to the rustic flavours captured in the lines.


The film is grounded and understated just like its eponymous protagonist. The intensity is subdued but it makes a solid gaze at the society’s double standards. Dosanjh delivers a restrained performance, imbuing the inherently servile character with vulnerability and innocent charm. Chamkila was slammed for penning sleazy lyrics, which were confined to Bhabhi-Devar naughty flings, voyeurism, and adultery. He invited enmity from his peers, the Gurudwara clan and even the police for objectifying women and misguiding the youth. But he never retreated.


He had no qualms in disclosing to the world that this is what grew up with. In one scene with a female journalist, he gets clumsy while looking at her jeans. And the reason for it that he gives, is astoundingly soaked in his honesty, and reveals his ordinariness. In another scene with an Income Tax officer, his innocuous nature comes to the fore. Parineeti admirably compliments him in every frame – one of best performances in recent years of the actress who still hasn’t got her due after 2014.

 “One becomes dearer after Death”, Tikka says this to this peer in a drunken stupor. It is believed that this man cursed Chamkila to an untimely death after their fallout. Anjum Batra emerges with a solid, worthy, and unmistakable performance as the disgruntled man bitten by destiny.


Amar Singh Chamkila - final words

I go with 3.5 stars out of 5 For Amar Singh Chamkila. It may not be Imtiaz Ali’s best work but it has got a beating heart and stays faithful to the vibrant singer.

Chamkila is streaming on Netflix from 12th April 2024.


Rating : 3/5

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About Ahwaan Padhee

Ahwaan Padhee

Ahwaan Padhee, is an IT Techie/Business Consultant by profession and a film critic/cinephile by passion, is also associated with Radio Playback as well, loves writing and conducting movie quizzes. More By Ahwaan Padhee

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