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Amar Singh Chamkila to hit Netflix soon, here’s everything you need to know about Elvis Presley of Punjab


Amar Singh Chamkila
Image Source : FILE IMAGE Here’s everything about Elvis Presley of Punjab, Amar Singh Chamkila

Imtiaz Ali is returning to OTT with his upcoming release Amar Singh Chamkila. Starring Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra, the film going to be released on Netflix on April 12, 2024. When the news came that Imtiaz was going to make a film on the life of Punjabi singer Chamkila, it got all kinds of reactions, like ‘the film needs to be made in Hindi’ and ‘Don’t Hindiize Punjabi artists’. But do you know who was Amar Singh Chamkila and why did Imtiaz choose to make a film on his life journey. 

Early Life

Amar Singh is known by this name. He was born on July 21, 1960 and his childhood was spent in Pind Dugri, Ludhiana. His dream was to become a musician, but due to financial constraints, he had to work in a textile mill. But fate had something else in store, perhaps something that even Chamkila himself would not have expected. Due to his hobby, he also learned harmonium and dholki. While working in a textile mill, he also started writing songs. This was the period when singers like Surinder Shinda and Kuldeep Manak were the favourites of Punjabis and Gurdas Maan was preparing to walk on the same track. Surinder Shinda says that Chamkila was the first to approach him. Chamkila was 18 years old then. He started writing songs for Shinda, which got good response. But there was still difficulty in meeting the household expenses. In such a situation, Chamkila thought of leaving Shinda’s hand and singing on her own. And after some time, we also got a chance to sing together. Gradually the courage to sing alone increased in the late singer.

What was so special about Chamkila?

But what was so special about this young boy, who put established singers like Surinder Shinda, Kuldeep Manak and Gurdas Maan on the backfoot? Actually, along with the lyrics, Chamkile’s stage presence was also quite different. His lyrics contained the truth of the Punjab of that era. Be it the increasing drug addiction in the state or fighting with women at home, Chamkila used to openly express everything through his songs. He would start commenting while singing. Sometimes there is talk of extra marital affairs or abusive language. He would present everything to the people as it is. In one line, he used to show a mirror to the Punjabis, of their society, of their lifestyle, of their caste status. 

Most of the songs of Chamkile are from live stage performances. A 5-6 feet stage was set up. He used to sing brightly and the people sitting in front would sometimes laugh, sometimes dance, sometimes create a ruckus and if someone was tight (drunk), he would even fight with them there. All these things were part of Chamkile’s arena. And because of these Akharas, Chamkila became the favourite of every Punjabi song lover within 4-5 years.

During the stronghold of the Jatts, a Dalit had captured the hearts of people

There was one more thing that made Chamkila different from her fellow singers. In Punjab, the stronghold of the Jatts, a Dalit had captured the hearts of the people. Chamkila belonged to a backward caste. But still, the people (especially the Jatts) respected him for his art. And because of this value, Chamkila went far ahead of his fellow Jatt singers. Although he used to mention Jatts a lot in his songs. His songs gave such an identity to Punjabi folk singing that even today people listen to them with the same interest. And perhaps it is Chamkila who, in today’s times, encourages Dalit singers like Ginni Mahi to openly express their identity with pride.

Chamkila and Amarjot!

Taking about Chamkila and not mention Amarjot Kaur! That’s not possible. Amarjot, who was seen with Chamkila in every stage performance was equally energetic and enthusiastic. Amarjot, who had a thin and sharp voice and she came into contact with Chamkila in the year 1980. By then Chamkila had sung a few songs and he needed a stage partner. Sonia and others had already worked with the singer but Chamkila wanted who could match his attitude. The search stopped at Amarjot.

Did you know that Amarjot was married at that time and was kept under restrictions? However, due to her passion for singing, she divorced her husband and joined Chamkila. After spending a few months together on stage, they decided to spend their lives together. Amarjot had earlier also sung with Kuldeep Manak. But the real recognition came only with Amar Singh Chamkila.

A string of performances

One thing that is often said about Chamkila is that no day went idle for him. Every day there was a show somewhere. This was also confirmed during the research of a film. According to research, Chamkila performed 366 shows in 365 days. And during this time, Chamkila’s voice went out of Punjab and the country and reached abroad. Chamkila’s slogan echoed in many countries like Canada, America, and Dubai. He also used to sing at weddings. And even in the 80s, he used to charge Rs 4000-4500 per show.

Chamkila had become very famous by the mid-80s. This was the era of terrorism in Punjab. There was an atmosphere of tension. After Operation Blue Star, there was despair everywhere. Encounters were going on between terrorists and police. In those days people did not come out of the house. There was news of someone’s death every day in the newspapers. At such a time, the gathering of 200-300 people in Chamkila’s Akhara was a huge success. 

A Black Day for India!

Chamkila sang songs for only nine years in total. Then came Tuesday and the date of March 8, 1988. The place was Mahasampur, about 40 kilometers from Jalandhar. Chamkila had come there to perform with his wife and stage partner Amarjot Kaur. Meanwhile, some youths came on a motorcycle and opened fire indiscriminately. Within a few moments, those youths ran away. Left behind the dead bodies of Chamkila and Amarjot. Both of their chests were full of bullets.

Chamkila’s murderers were never caught and no news was found. Many suspicions were raised. As if Khalistani terrorists might have killed him because of the lyrics of his songs. His fellow contestants might have got him killed. Another angle was given to his death, that was that Amarjot was from the Jatt community and Chamkila was Dalit. For this reason, also he might have been killed. Chamkila and Amarjot left the world at the top of their career. He left behind the lyrics of 200 songs that were yet to be sung. The world will get to know more about them in Imtiaz Ali’s Amar Singh Chamkila, which will be released on Netflix on April 12, 2024. 

Also Read: Aadujeevitham Box Office Collection: Prithviraj Sukumaran starrer passes Monday test with flying colours


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