Netflix, Window Seat Films, Select Media Holdings LLP and Saregama’s Amar Singh Chamkila is a biopic of the most popular singer of Punjab. It delves into the life of famous Punjabi singer Amar Singh Chamkila from his childhood to his rise to superstardom as a singer, right up to his killing.

Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali have written a brilliant story tracing the rise of Amar Singh Chamkila from a struggling singer to a national and international phenomenon. It starts from his love for singing in his childhood. Their story is so marvellous that it sucks the audience into the singer’s life as if they were a part of his family. The duo deserves distinction marks for the research that has gone into the screenplay as well as their style of writing the screenplay. The drama is narrated in flashback after Chamkila and his wife are gunned down, but the flashback is narrated through the eyes of several people simultaneously. Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali keep the audience invested in the drama right from the word ‘go’ because they have adopted a racy style which lays bare the persona of Chamkila while still maintaining a certain intrigue about the phenomenon. His complete confidence in himself and his ‘arrogance’ as a singer is juxtaposed with his simplicity and down-to-earth behaviour; his bold nature is shown going hand-in-hand with his immense fear of losing his life and/or his superstardom; his naughtiness, evident in his obscene lyrics, and his straightforwardness in his behaviour make for strange characteristics in a single person. But they all are so beautifully written that one can’t help but admire the screenplay.

The love story of Amar Singh and Amarjot (Parineeti Chopra) is so subtly written that it becomes a delightful experience to witness the budding romance which ultimately culminates in their marriage. It is nice to see Chamkila run after money, yet remain grounded, fully aware that he can make hay while the sun shines.

Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali’s dialogues are outstanding and they touch the heart.

Before coming to the performances of the actors, a word about the casting. Mukesh Chhabra has done a swell job of the casting because the performances are of a high order.

Diljit Dosanjh does such an outstanding job in the title role that it would seem as if he were born to play this role. He lives every moment and does such a remarkable job of the character that the audience is eager to forgive him for his misdemeanours. The honesty and integrity in his performance are of a different level altogether. No amount of praise is too much for the actor who redefines great acting with this performance. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he, in himself, is an encyclopaedia of acting. Parineeti Chopra does a wonderful job as Amarjot. Anjum Batra delivers a memorable performance as Amar Singh’s bosom pal, Tiki. Anuraag Arora is terrific as police inspector Dalbir Singh. Robbie Johal is first-rate as Amar Singh’s friend, Kikar. Samuel John is lovely in the role of Chamkila’s father. Jasmeet Singh Bhatia and Manoj Kumar Saha live their roles as Dalbir Singh’s two constables. Pranav Vashisht (as Pamma) and Pavneet Singh (as Babbu) lend lovely support. Apinderdeep Singh shines as income-tax guy Swaran Singh Sivia. Kull Sidhu is natural to the core as Amar Singh’s first wife, Gurmel Kaur. Nisha Bano has her moments as singer Sonia. Ankit Sagar is terrific as Sonia’s husband and secretary, Kashmiri Lal. Anjali Sharma and Prabhjot Kaur make their presence felt as Amarjot’s sisters. Uday Bir Sandhu looks handsome and is impactful as Jitender Jinda. Sahiba Bali is lovely as the female journalist who interviews Chamkila. Gurteg Singh is cute as little Amar Singh. Mohit Chauhan leaves a mark in a special appearance. Kumud Mishra creates an impact in a special appearance. Rahul Mittra has his moments as DSP Bhatti. Tushar Dutt is good as Dhakkan. Amritpal Singh and Neeta Jhanjhi, playing Amarjot’s parents, lend fine support. Jashn Kohli leaves a fine impression as Amarjot’s brother, Pappu. Navdeep Singh and Mousam Sharma are adequate as the fundamentalists who visit Chamkila’s house. Angad Singh, Ajay Madhok and Malkit Rauni are impressive as the fundamentalists in Canada. Mahavir Bhullar is nice in the role of the fundamentalist in the Amritsar religious institution. Ashok Kumar, Vipin Katyal and Gurpreet Singh are natural as the rival singers. Mandeep Singh (as Manku), Rajinder Singh (as Ahuja) and Sukhpal Singh (as the Moga shopkeeper) are good. Others provide good support.

Imtiaz Ali’s direction is phenomenal. He has narrated the subject in such a fantastic manner that you fall in love with Chamkila, his story and everything about him. Imtiaz Ali’s multi-flashback narrative is extraordinary. To broaden the appeal of the Punjabi songs in the film (because Chamkila was a Punjabi singer), Imtiaz Ali has translated the words into Hindi and used them as loud and bold subtitles. This is a masterstroke as otherwise, the appeal of the songs (and, therefore, even the film, to a large extent) may have become very restricted. The music consists of two kinds. All the original Chamkila songs are rendered live by the actors (Diljit Dosanjh, Parineeti Chopra and the others) shown singing them on screen. The other songs are composed by A.R. Rahman. While Chamkila’s songs are, of course, historic, A.R. Rahman’s music is also superlative. In other words, all the songs are a treat for the ears. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are superb and inspired. Choreography (including Srusti Jain’s choreography of the Naram kaalja song) is wonderful. A.R. Rahman’s background music is superb. Sylvester Fonseca’s cinematography is fantastic. Paramjeet Singh Pamma’s action and stunt scenes are realistic. Suman Roy Mahapatra’s production designing, and Trupti Chavan’s art direction are excellent. Aarti Bajaj’s editing is super-sharp.

On the whole, Amar Singh Chamkila is an extraordinary film which has the potential to achieve the status of a cult film. It has the power to write OTT history. It is a film which will get the love of the audience for years on end.

Released on 12-4-’24 on Netflix.