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Diljit Dosanjh, Imtiaz Ali jugal-bandi strikes the right chord

Amar Singh Chamkila, based on the life and times of the popular Punjabi singer Amar Singh Chamkila has started streaming on OTT major Netflix today. It is directed by Imtiaz Ali and stars Diljit Dosanjh in the titular role and Parineeti Chopra as his wife Amarjot. The film follows the real life story of Punjabi singer Amar Singh Chamkila who was loved and abhorred in equal parts for his naughty, mischievous and double meaning lyrics about love. While he earned name and fame, he was also called shameless for singing alongside women, later replaced by his permanent co-singer, his wife Amarjot Kaur. The movie Amar Singh Chamkila on Netflix brings to life the journey of a humble singer from a small town who rose to fame but met a tragic end very early in life. But is this latest biopic worth your time and attention? Read our Amar Singh Chamkila movie review to make that decision.
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Movie Review: Amar Singh Chamkila
Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Parineeti Chopra, Anjum Batra, Anurag Arora amongst others
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Release Date: April 12, 2024
Platform: Netflix (OTT)

Rating : 3.5 out of 5

What’s it about?

In the heart of Punjab, where the sun kisses the mustard fields and the air hums with ancient tales, there lived a humble singer named Amar Singh aka Chamkila (Diljit Dosanjh). His lyrics were brash, double-meaning, rebellious and too bold to handle for many. When he sang, the villagers gathered around with their eyes wide with wonder. His words scorched the very ground he stood on.
Fame came knocking at Chamkila’s door, his songs echoed through every radio, every marketplace and his records started to sell in Black. Just like Amitabh Bachchan’s movie tickets. The youth danced to his tunes. But with fame came fury. Critics sharpened their tools, ready to dissect his every note and find a way to put a stop to his performances. They called him arrogant, reckless, a firebrand who dared to challenge tradition and was behind spoiling the youth and the culture of Punjab. Chamkila wore his fame like a heavy cloak, suffocating yet irresistible. But the applause was a double-edged sword. For every standing ovation, there was a poisoned arrow aimed at his heart. And then one day, as he reached the venue of his much-awaited performance, also called the Akhada, along with his co-singer and wife Amarjot Kaur (Parineeti Chopra), they were shot dead in board daylight by the so called moral police.

Watch Amar Singh Chamkila trailer video here:

What’s hot?

Diljit Dosanjh as Chamkila will have your heart. He is so effortless playing the singer and adapts the nuances of the character like a natural. Playing the tumbi before the performance with those sharp head jerks is a whole vibe. He impressed us earlier with a small yet impactful performance in Udta Punjab and gave a heartwarming performance in Soorma, followed by regaling us with his comic timing in Good Newz. And with Amar Singh Chamkila, Diljit cements his position as one of the best actors in India right now, who can flow in any character with ease. Parineeti Chopra, with her limited yet hard to miss screen time plays the apt better half to Amar Singh Chamkila, taking on the body language of an Akhada singer with great poise. The casting of the other characters in the movie is done well. Anjum Batra as the friend who plays an important role in Chamkila journey stands out. So does Anurag Arora, as a senior cop investigating the double murders, who doesn’t say much but with a restrained portrayal of emotions expresses that he stands with Chamkila, especially during the ending scenes.

While the film stays true to showcasing Amar Singh Chamkila’s life on the stage and the reactions – good, bad, and threatening – that came his way, it also gracefully highlights how moral policing and their grounds of raising objections about something may not always resonate with the ones they are seemingly fighting for. It also hints at how people are targeted and have to suffer due to the hypocricy that ails the society.

The songs, which are the hero of the film, and the actual cause that killed Amar Singh Chamkila, are chosen well to highlight the singer’s genre. The Punjabi lyrics are also translated to Hindi and English to make the experience inclusive to truly understand the nature of Chamkila’s writing and singing.

What’s not?

For a biopic, Amar Singh Chamkila leaves a lot of aspects of the singer’s life unexplored. The fact that his popularity transcended the boundaries of Punjab and reached other music industries is left untouched. There is lack of depth in some areas like the rivalry between him and his contemporaries, his family life or his persona off stage. At one point, while you are waiting to see more about Amar Singh Chamkila, you realise that the narrative is stuck in a loop, from one stage performance after another, followed by the same bouquets and brickbats.

Watch this video of Diljit Dosanjh here:

Final Verdict

Watch Amar Singh Chamkila for the firebrand performer Diljit Dosanjh. Watch it for Imtiaz Ali‘s flawless direction and a heartwarming story of a simple singer with big dreams who threw caution to the wind and paid a heavy price for entertaining his audience. A special shoutout and big congratulations to MAMI Year Round Programme for bringing to us a story made with so much heart, Amar Singh Chamkila.

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