Movie Review: Diljit’s Chamkila Act Wins Hearts
Movie Review: Diljit’s Chamkila Act Wins Hearts

But the Imtiaz Ali biopic lacks depth

Director: Imtiaz Ali 

Writer: Imtiaz Ali, Sajid Ali 

Cast: Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra 

Stars: 3/5



Diljit Dosanjh plays Amar Singh Chamkila, the highest record-selling Punjabi artiste of the ’80s who his adult-themed massy songs filled with sexual innuendo and explicit lyrics focussed on women, who was gunned down at the young age of 27, along with his wife, Amarjot Kaur (played by Parineeti Chopra). The Imtiaz Ali movie follows his musical journey that came to a screeching and tragic end.


Chamkila, the singer who won the heart of the masses with his music and was known for his humility and rootedness, is not too far removed from Diljit, the ‘Beeba munda’ who rocked Coachella last year and became the first Punjabi artiste to do so. But watching the movie never feels like one is watching Diljit, he is out-and-out Chamkila – and every actor worth his/her salt would know that it is not as easy a task as it seems. Full marks to Diljit for becoming Chamkila. Parineeti does a good job as well. 




If Chamkila was all about his music, and Imtiaz’s Chamkila is more so. While Diljit and Parineeti lend their voice to the original compositions of Chamkila, the filmmaker brings back his Rockstar team of Mohit Chauhan, Irshad Kamil and of course, the legendary AR Rahman to add to the soundscape. And the result is a stupendous music album. 


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However, therein also lies the problem with the movie—it remains a great music album video. Although the biopic tries to paint the journey of Chamkila, it does so in broad strokes without delving into the emotional space of its protagonist. The biopic hardly goes beyond a Wikipedia page. It is almost like a collage of their stage performances (in fact, while the movie shows Chamkila having two sons with his second wife Amarjot, they don’t make any appearance as a family) and makes Chamkila come across as a person totally obsessed with making money by pleasing the audience having zero respect for any relationship — even his relationship with his art seems to be dictated by commercial gains. 




For a person having no idea who Chamkila was and with zero understanding of the Punjabi language (although Ali tries his best to give the English translations of the song lyrics on screen, it doesn’t really help that much) in which Chamkila’s songs were written, you are kind of left wondering if he is being celebrated, and it doesn’t help that at one point in the movie Chamkila says that many of his contemporaries write similar kind of provocative lyrics although only his gets criticised, essentially suggesting he was not doing anything pathbreaking. 




To sum it up, Imtiaz Ali brings out the rockstar in Chamkila and the album rocks. He also reinvents himself as a filmmaker incorporating newer styles of storytelling. But the biopic lacks the nuanced layering and emotional depth of his Rockstar


Image Credits: Netflix

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