Art & Entertainment

‘Amar Singh Chamkila’ On Netflix Movie Review: Diljit Dosanjh Shines In Imtiaz Ali’s Poignant Biopic On The Slain Punjabi Singer

Outlook Rating:
4 / 5

Netflix is here with a film on the assassinated Punjabi singer Amar Singh Chamkila. Starring Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra is this Imtiaz Ali directorial worth your while? Read the full movie review to find out.

A Still Of Parineeti Chopra and Diljit Dosanjh from Amar Singh Chamkila
A Still Of Parineeti Chopra and Diljit Dosanjh from 'Amar Singh Chamkila' Photo: Instagram

Netflix is here with its lastest release based on the life of Amar Singh Chamkila. Last year, there was another movie ‘Jodi’ released, which was also based on the life of the singer. Amar Singh Chamkila might not have been a global sensation or a Pan-India star, but his songs were massively popular in north India. With ‘Amar Singh Chamkila’, Netflix India is trying to once again highlight the importance of his songs and the impact that he had on people’s lives. Also, his assassination, which happened in 1988, is something that hasn’t been solved till date. All of this cumulatively have created a good buzz for the film. Here’s all you need to know about ‘Amar Singh Chamkila’.

‘Amar Singh Chamkila’: Story

Amar Singh Chamkila’ revolves around the life and murder of a humble singer Amar Singh Chamkila (Diljit Dosanjh) and his second wife Amarjot Kaur (Parineeti Chopra). His brash lyrics were taken up by many as relatable to life, whereas many even felt that they were cheap and crass. However, his fame grew all over Punjab and he started getting loves by one section of the society and getting brutal criticised by the other section of society. However, his assassination became a national topic with people wanting to know who did it and why. ‘Amar Singh Chamkila’ tries to shed light on both his assassination and his colourful life.

‘Amar Singh Chamkila’: Performances

This is the second time that Diljit Dosanjh is playing Amar Singh Chamkila. His last attempt last year in ‘Jodi’ was appreciated a lot, but once you see his performance in ‘Amar Singh Chamkila’ and compare it to ‘Jodi’, you’ll realise how much more he has put into the character this time over. He has not only tried to get the look and feel of the character right but also tried to embody the slain Punjabi singer in spirit. He brings in a lot more nuances to the character this time over. The way he has played out the emotional bits makes you want to stand up and applaud.

Parineeti Chopra is cast pretty perfectly. She gets the body language really well of Amarjot Kaur, but where she slightly faulters is getting the enacting of the singing bits correctly. When an actor plays a singer onscreen, they need to make sure that they’re not just lip syncing like they would do in usual films. They need to actually make the viewer feel as if it them singing. If you listen to the songs, you’ll realise that Amarjot Kaur’s vocals were very high-pitched and when Parineeti Chopra enacts those songs, it doesn’t feel as if she is singing. The strain on the vocal nerves around the neck shows prominently when you’re singing in a higher pitch. Usually try to catch hold of this aspect and enact while playing singers onscreen. Ranbir Kapoor did it fantastically when he played Jordan onscreen in ‘Rockstar’. Diljit Dosanjh felt as if he was actually singing the songs while acting onscreen, and therefore his bits also looked real. Parineeti Chopra missed out on this aspect.

‘Amar Singh Chamkila’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects

The writing by Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali takes on the elephant in the room head on. They start the movie right with a bang, literally, with the two main protagonists getting shot. Now that this is done, you expect that the film might revolve around the deaths, the who and the why of it. But the writers immediately pivot to the life of the lead characters and they transition it by song and the opening titles. It helps build the whirlwind nature of the narrative by making you think, will this be a murder mystery chase? Another interesting thing about the writing is how the Ali brothers haven’t opened up all their cards at the very start thinking that the audience knows about Amar Singh Chamkila. Yes, he was famous, but people in other parts of the country don’t know much about his life. Therefore, the writers have kept that mystery alive by peeling one layer at a time and giving you a shocker.

Imtiaz Ali’s direction helps to add to the narrative so beautifully that it doesn’t just feel like a musical biopic, but also gives you food for thought. He has not shown the story from Amar Singh Chamkila or Amarjot Kaur’s perspective. He has shown other people narrate the life story of the duo. That too it’s not always the same person narrating the entire back story. You’ve different sets of people telling different incidences from their recollective memory. So, in a way, the story isn’t just about the singers and their music, it’s also about the kind of impact that the music had on people’s lives – people who were close to them and also the commoners in general. Also, another massive step Imtiaz Ali took is to not get the songs recreated in Hindi for a better reach. He has used the songs in Punjabi but has given the viewer a lyrical video where the song’s Hindi lyrics are coming on the screen side by side when the song is being sung in Punjabi. So, there is no confusion about what the songs are trying to say. It’s a gamechanger of a move and I am so sure that this trick is going to be picked up by many pan-India films who wouldn’t end up dubbing or remaking the same songs in five different languages. They would much rather just play the song with its original intent in the base language, and the rest would just be showcased in the choicest language onscreen in form of a lyrical video. A special mention needs to be given to the opening scene of the film where the two protagonists are gunned down. The way Imtiaz Ali has shot the scene is so clever. You’re left shocked at what just happened, and the actors also perform brilliantly there, but what you’re left grappling with is that even as a viewer you’re not able to find out as to who pulled the trigger – a question that has yet not been solved in real life. Keeping the audience guessing throughout the film was a great choice.

No words can justify the brilliance of AR Rahman and his musical genius. Being a musical biopic, this film had to be done by him and him only. The way he has integrated old songs with new ones, and kept the perfect feel of those old tracks intact is terrific. The songs that Amar Singh Chamkila sings are all in Punjabi whereas the ones that are used in the background or interludes, they’re all in Hindi, therefore as a viewer you’re spoilt for choice.

Sylvester Fonseca’s cinematography is good and helps you feel as if you’re right in the middle of everything happening. The way he has shot the musical scenes gives you a feel as if you’re one of the people standing in the crowd listening live. Also, he has kept the filming very raw which gives you a feel of how rural and rooted this story’s setting is.


If I have to point out something it has to be the editing by Aarti Bajaj. It is decent, but because of the different perspectives playing through the movie, sometimes as a viewer you feel a jump in narratives. Otherwise, it’s quite taut.

‘Amar Singh Chamkila’: Cast & Crew

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Parineeti Chopra, Apinderdeep Singh, Nisha Bano, Rahul Mittra, Vipin Katyal, Anjum Batra, Udaybir Sandhu, Anhad Singh, Sahiba Bali

Available On: Netflix

Duration: 2 Hours 25 Minutes

‘Amar Singh Chamkila’: Can Kids Watch It?


Outlook’s Verdict

Amar Singh Chamkila may not have been a pan-India star, but with Imtiaz Ali’s terrific storytelling, his life and death will be something that everyone would remember for ages. Diljit Dosanjh’s second attempt at playing the character of the Punjabi singer is much more refined and nuanced than it was in ‘Jodi’. Add to that is AR Rahman’s brilliance in the music department. The story might look very light on the outset but it hits you hard the way it has been presented. Overall, it’s a Great One Time Watch. I am going with 4 stars.