Amar Singh Chamkila Review: Diljit Dosanjh Starrer Brilliantly Captures the Spirit of Punjab

Amar Singh Chamkila Review: Diljit Dosanjh Starrer Brilliantly Captures the Spirit of Punjab

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Amar Singh Chamkila is the true story of one of the most popular Punjabi singers of all time, whose songs were hushed upon but listened to by one and all. One of the most controversial names in the history of Punjabi music, was shot dead at the young age of 27 because of the vulgarity in his lyrics – even though each celebration of that time was incomplete without his tunes.

Imtiaz Ali’s Amar Singh Chamkila begins with the legendary singer being shot along with his co-performer and wife, Amarjot Kaur (Parineeti Chopra), by unknown men. The rest of the film runs in flashbacks, beginning with his childhood when the innocent, impressionable boy caught up on the secretive sexual habits and innuendos of those around him.

Diljeet Dosanjh has perfectly slipped into adult Chamkila’s musical shoes. He portrays Chamkila as a simple and curious man with a burning desire to sing and a perpetual smile. Albeit the means to succeed, he strives to pave his own way. He is aware of the challenges but refuses to put anything above his self-respect. While he appears shy and innocent, there are also moments when he knows how to manipulate things and turn them in his favour.

However, Parineeti Chopra’s performance is as bland as humanly possible. In scenes where she is supposed to play a shy and reserved woman, she is straight away giving the impression of a lost person with something weird going on in their head. One of the scenes has the real clipping of Amarjot Kaur performing on the side, further mocking Parineeti’s special acting skills.

Her terrible performance is balanced by Anjum Batra, who plays Chamkila’s close friend Tikki, who helped Chamkila with his career and once cursed him to die when things got ugly. Batra is sticking loyally to the role of a close friend who’ll do anything for you when you are not on their wrong side.

Amar Singh Chamkila Review: Feels Like A Warm and Flavourful Slice of Real Punjab

Diljit Dosanjh in a still from Amar Singh Chamkila

Amar Singh Chamkila has somehow managed to capture the true essence of Punjab. Whether it is the portrayal of akahadas (small gatherings for stage performances) or cultural nuances, the film has mirrored exactly what goes on in the agrarian state.

Amar Singh Chamkila is one of the rare picks from mainstream Hindi cinema, which has rightly captured the true essence of Punjabi culture, breaking the stereotypical portrayal of Punjab with forced accents and funny personalities.

Even the political atmosphere of Punjab has been covered in the film with characters throwing away terms like “comrades” and “fundamentalists” like a couple of frisbees.

Amar Singh Chamkila Review: The Film Raises An Important Topic

While it is the life story of the controversial singer at the core, it also raises several important questions about the hush culture of Indian society regarding anything sexual.

It rightly brings out the deeply rooted hypocrisy where the mention of sex and sexuality is considered immoral, but a plethora of folk songs played in weddings and ceremonies have clearly suggestive tones.

However, the subject could have been explored further. While the theme is brilliant on paper, the execution could have been more effective with just slightly more effort.

Amar Singh Chamkila Review: A Creative Slideshow of Key Events from His Life

Chamkila Body Image 3 amar singh chamkila

Hindi translations of Chamkila’s verses flash on the screen in the film

 

The film is a collection of key incidents from Chamkila’s life cinematically sewed together. From him approaching a local musician and his first stage performance, to his wedding and ultimate assassination everything follows like the sequential chapters of a play.

Before each key event, the year and location drop in on the screen in a playful manner, giving away the feel of a PPT with each slide denoting different phases of his life.

Imtiaz has also incorporated several real-life clippings and photographs, drawing an interesting comparison between the source and re-enactment. Sometimes, you’ll see the original picture after Diljit and Pareeniti’s shot, and sometimes, the screen divides into two, drawing a clear parallel between the two.

Some of the shots of Diljeet and Pareeniti have also been edited like old video films, adding that ounce of nostalgia.

It seems like almost all the media available regarding Chamkila – such as his music record covers and performance clippings — have been incorporated in the film. For instance, in a scene, it is shown how one of Chamkila’s popular album covers must have been shot. Similarly, during the wedding sequence, pictures from Chamkila’s real wedding are put on display.

Another thing worth mentioning is how the Hindi translations of Chamkila’s verses flash on the screen so that users like me, who don’t quite understand fluent Punjabi, can still understand the true meaning of the songs and why they stirred controversies.

Amar Singh Chamkila: The Film Doesn’t Explore Much About What Goes Inside Chamkila’s Head

The film has oversimplified the personality of a man who had multiple layers. I would have loved to see more of what goes inside Chamkila’s head.

It would have been rather interesting to explore how an artist like him deals with the unexpected chapters of his destiny, or even how he perceives the day-to-day happenings around him, for that matter. At present, it feels like the film touches superficially at the tip of what might be an emotional iceberg. Just when the film starts tapping into the area, the film concludes shortly.

While one of the scenes briefly touches upon the emptiness that comes with success and how your previous notions of happiness, it would have been spectacular to watch the concept in detail.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Imtiaz had a brilliant opportunity to tap into the psyche of Chamkila but missed it royally. (or did he set the expectations too high with Rockstar and Tamasha?)



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