Amar Singh Chamkila: Imtiaz Ali returns back with a bang

After a series of love stories, Imtiaz Ali takes a welcome detour and delivers a hard-hitting film that goes beyond a biographical drama.
Amar Singh Chamkila (Hindi), 12-04-2024, Biological Drama, 2 hours 26 minutes, U/A, OTT
  • Main Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Parineeti Chopra, Apinderdeep Singh, Nisha Bano, and Anjum Batra
  • Director: Imtiaz Ali
  • Producer: Imtiaz Ali and Mohit Choudary
  • Music Director: AR Rahman
  • Cinematography: Sylvester Fonseca
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Published in: Southfirst

Imtiaz Ali is a director who is known primarily for making love stories and he has found good success in that genre except for Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017)and Love Aaj Kal (2020).

But one of Imtiaz Ali’s best works to date remains Highway (2014). The director focused his lens on the issue of sexual abuse with the backdrop of Stockholm syndrome.

The film was a major breakthrough for the now national award winner Alia Bhatt. It is also one of Randeep Hooda’s best works.

In the last few years, Imtiaz hasn’t had the best run at the box, both critically and commercially.

Tamasha (2015) did moderate business but Jab Harry Met Sejal along with Love Aaj Kal 2 were damp squibs in more ways than one.

Finally, Imtiaz Ali has broken his dry run with the movie Amar Singh Chamkila.


Amar Singh Chamkila begins with the assassination of the controversial Punjab Pop Singer played by Diljit Dosanjh and his wife Amrajot Kaur (Parineeti Chopra).

Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Amar Singh Chamkila’. (X)

The husband and wife were a popular duo who had sung many songs.

From here the movie goes into non-linear storytelling that talks about the formative years of Chamkila which had a huge influence on his music, and how he goes from a Dalit laborer to a singer who is both admired and criticized in equal measure for the brazen lyrics that are sexual in nature.

At times Amar Singh Chamkila also plays out like a whodunit giving an insight into the groups who had a big issue with how Chamkila didn’t adhere to the social diktats.

One of the things that majorly works for Amar Singh Chamkila is the characterization of the titular role. Diljit Dosanjh’s character is not a rebel by design.

There are scenes in the second half when Chamkila tries to move away from his regular songs and tried devotional, but the audiences want Chamkila to sing what he is famous for.

Chamkila is not someone who is dismissive of what is happening around him, but at the same time he is a man who chooses not to be bullied into submission.

In that way Chamkila’s character proves to be a worthy successor to the previous Imtiaz Ali protagonists whose intent was to live more freely and in the process discover their purpose in life.

Many pertinent questions

In the two hours and 26 minutes running time Imtiaz packs in many themes.

For example who gets to decide what an actual art is? Should an artist endure a lifetime of hate and humiliation for choices that are driven by circumstances? And finally how there is a huge difference between criticizing an art versus wanting to ban something that does not align with our tastes.

Parineeti Chopra in ‘Amar Singh Chamkila’. (X)

There are many powerful moments in Amar Singh Chamkila that stay in the viewers’ minds for a long time.

For example, a journalist comes to meet Chamkila and insists on having a personal interview. Chamkila is reluctant to the extent that he won’t even look into her eyes, the reason being this journalist has worn pants.

This portion works as a hard-hitting statement on how a singer has no issues in writing songs describing women’s sexuality in a raw manner but at the same time, modern clothing is a big problem for this man.

Amar Singh Chamkila also boasts of some hard-hitting dialogues. There is a scene where Chamkila talks about how everyone isn’t blessed with the privilege of thinking about what is right and wrong.

He goes on to add that he certainly is not in that position and makes music to just feel alive.

The film also has some archival footage showing the real Amar Singh Chamkila and the wife Amrajot Kaur, this is juxtaposed with the scenes of Diljit and Parineeti.

Sure this technique becomes distracting on occasions but still the raw footage makes it easier for the audiences to understand why the real Chamkila was considered as a threat by the purists.

Technical aspects

AR Rahman’s music coupled with Irshad Kamil’s lyrics is the backbone of Amar Singh Chamkila. Mohit Chauhan’s “Baaja” sets the tone perfectly capturing the spirit of Chamkila. “Tu Kya Jaane” is another wonderful number celebrating the love between the husband and wife.

The camerawork by Sylvester Fonseca is also first-rate. The cameraman deserves distinction marks for bringing alive the 1970’s and 80’s of Punjab. A particular mention must be made of the scenes where the village girls talk straight to the camera with some hilarious punchlines.

Imtiaz Ali also deserves credit for how he has depicted the impact of insurgency, both for Punjab and Chamkila’s professional life.


Diljit Dosanj in ‘Amar Singh Chamkila’. (X)

Diljit Dosanjh delivers a rousing performance in the title role. It goes without saying that Diljit’s histrionics is a major asset of the movie.

The actor portrays the vulnerability and the fighting spirit of Chamkila in a stellar manner.

Among the supporting cast, Anjum Batra, as the first musician who collaborated with Chamkila stands out the most.

Parineeti Chopra has her moments like the love ballad “Tu Kya Jaane” where she does a wonderful job in showcasing a love-struck woman but the role of Amarjot needed to be etched better and also deserved a stronger actor.

A film could also have done with a deeper dive into interpersonal relationships. The track of Chamkila’s first marriage before settling with Amarjot also feels patchy.


Keeping aside these small niggles Amar Singh Chamkila is a glorious return to form for Imtiaz Ali. Diljit Dosanjh shows why he deserves to play the male lead in Hindi Cinema more often.

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