OPINION: Diljit Dosanjh's Amar Singh Chamkila is Imtiaz Ali's OG Rockstar; know why

Imtiaz Ali's latest film Amar Singh Chamkila with Diljit Dosanjh in the title role has so many scenes that remind of the filmmaker's 2011 film Rockstar. Here's why Chamkila is Imtiaz's OG Rockstar.

Updated on Apr 15, 2024  |  03:44 PM IST |  76.5K
OPINION: Here's why we think Diljit Dosanjh's Amar Singh Chamkila is Imtiaz Ali's OG Rocks
Pic Courtesy: Pinkvilla

Trigger Warning: This article contains gruesome details of murder and violence, which could be triggering for some readers.

Imtiaz Ali's latest film based on the life of a popular Punjabi singer, Amar Singh Chamkila, and his co-singer and wife, Amarjot Kaur, has managed to woo the audience. The way the filmmaker has presented the story of Amar and Amarjot with utmost conviction and has got remarkable performances from his lead stars Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra, has smitten everybody and they can't stop raving about it. 

Even though the film talks about the life of Punjabi singers from the 80s and most of the dialogues and songs use Theth Punjabi (pure form of Punjabi), it has still resonated with the audience nationwide because the message reaches straight to the heart. And as they say, when something comes from the heart it finds its way to another as well.

While there's too much to talk about Imtiaz Ali's brilliance as the filmmaker of Amar Singh Chamkila, one thing I couldn't help but notice is how the film had several shades of the filmmaker's 2011 cult film Rockstar. I am not just saying that because both are the stories of two singers who had a rebellious nature with performing skills that had a hypnotizing effect on the audience. Too many parallels between Rockstar and Amar Singh Chamkila can be drawn that it seems Chamkila was the OG Rockstar of Imtiaz.

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Why do I think Amar Singh Chamkila was the OG Rockstar of Imtiaz Ali?

Sometimes you manifest something in your life! While watching Amar Singh Chamkila, I had this thought running in mind multiple times that it's possible that Imtiaz Ali manifested Chamkila and his story in his life because his Rockstar character Janardan Jakhar aka Jordan, played by Ranbir Kapoor, has far too many resemblances with Chamkila. 

Despite Imtiaz Ali's huge inclination towards Punjab and Punjabi language, he didn't always know about Chamkila and he learnt about him only before Rockstar happened. He mentioned in an interview with The Indian Express that he came to know about the singer and writer 15 years back while touring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. "I found that the locals would always listen to Chamkila whenever they wanted to have fun. I was intrigued by this singer who appealed to the people at the grassroots," he said.

This was around 2009-2010 which means Imtiaz had an idea about Chamkila while he was making Rockstar which may have influenced the character of Janardan Jakhar a bit. However, Imtiaz spent a lot of time researching the life of Chamkila before he started filming the movie. I remember seeing the social media posts of local Punjabi people and singers with Imtiaz while he was spending time in the state before announcing the film. It was because he was trying to understand Chamkila, his wife, their life, their struggles, the politics around them, why so many people loved them, what made people hate them, and what led to their assassination.

Now, Imtiaz has a tendency to dive deep into something that resonates with him, with each film. Notice how his 2015 film Tamasha's opening song Chali Kahani briefly mentions the story of Laila Majnu and later in 2018 he made a complete film out of it. That's not it because, before Tamasha's release, he thought that Rockstar's ending could've been different. During a discussion with Ranbir Kapoor for Film Companion, he wondered how beautiful it would've been if at the end of Rockstar Janardan and Heer managed to be together but they discover there is no happiness they thought they would get. He did it when he made Love Aaj Kal 2020. Remember, the track of Kartik Aaryan and Arushi Sharma?

So, the point here is that Imtiaz's films always have something or the other that has reference to his previous films or their characters.

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Parallels between Amar Singh Chamkila and Rockstar

1) Janardan Jakhar of Rockstar can do anything to make it as a Rockstar in his life. When he learns from his friends that Heer is 'Dil Todne Ki Machine' he starts wooing her despite knowing that she is way out of his league. Here, in Amar Singh Chamkila, he has to escape from the environment he has grown up in. He can't do that if his Jodi with Amarjot breaks and to ensure that doesn't happen, he marries Amarjot despite being married already. Remember when he justifies his actions in front of his friend and even Amarjot? He clearly says that he doesn't want to go back to the place where he started.

2) Before becoming Jordan, Janardan is a meek guy. Remember how he can't stand still and talk to Heer when she tells him to speak? But as they get closer and his attraction toward her grows to another level, he starts dominating her. The same happens with Amar Singh Chamkila, he's scared when he gets death threats and even stops singing vulgar songs for some time. Though he continues singing them shortly after following the heavy demand from his audience, he's still affected by the threats. However, his character arc is similar to Janardan aka Jordan here too because he becomes fearless towards the end and does everything that he is told not to do. Remember the scene when he smokes Beedi in front of the guys who asked him to not do so, even though he knows that it can cost him his life?

3) Just like 'Jo bhi main kehna chahoon barbaad karen alfaaz mere' was true for Jordan, it's true for Amar Singh Chamkila because the supposed reason behind his and his wife's assassination was the lyrics of their songs.


4) One of the most heartbreaking moments of Rockstar is when Jordan impregnates Heer who is going through a life-threatening health situation and she dies because of it. The conversation they have before having s*x is about a world that is far away from rights and wrongs. Here in Amar Singh Chamkila, he tells his pregnant wife to continue doing shows with him because it will help them escape from their current situation and reach a point where they can think about doing something good in life. What can't be avoided here is that both situations have similar consequences. Just like Heer dies in the end, Amarjot is killed right in front of Chamkila's eyes. The only difference here is that Jordan has to live with his trauma and Chamkila is killed by the next bullet.

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5) Not to forget, Heer's sister blames Jordan for her death and Amarjot's sister also shows her displeasure about Chamkila's behavior towards Amarjot's situation.

Disclaimer: If you need support or know someone who is struggling with any kind of abuse, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist, NGO or speak to someone about it. There are several helplines available for the same.

ALSO READ: Is Diljit Dosanjh’s track Vida Karo from Amar Singh Chamkila your new favorite? Know inspiration behind it

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Gautam Batra loves to observe tiny details in cinema. He has a special place in his heart for films

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