‘Amar Singh Chamkila’ Movie Recap & Ending Explained: How Did Chamkila And Amarjot Die?

Amar Singh Chamkila has been one of the biggest influences on many Punjabi music artists for many years. His songs and lyrics have lived as a part of his legacy ever since he was killed in 1988. Lately, there has been a lot of interest generated about him and the body of work he did with his wife. Sony LIV’s Chamak also tried their hands at this subject matter briefly, but it took a different route. This Imtiaz Ali film is different, and it delves into several factors that made Chamkila a renowned yet controversial artist. 


Spoilers Ahead

How Did Chamkila And Amarjot Die?

Amar Singh Chamkila begins with a small gathering happening in the year 1988 in the town of Mehsampur near Jalandhar. Everyone was waiting for Chamkila and his wife, Amarjot, to arrive for their performance. They had become a sensation by that time in the state of Punjab. On getting out of the car, Amarjot was the first to be shot in the head, and he died instantly. 


Chamkila was shot a second later, and along with them two of his troupe members died as well. There was chaos that ensued as many at the event were not ready to stand up against the gunmen, who ran away from the scene of the crime. Nobody knew who killed them. All the bodies were discreetly left outside a local government hospital, fearing retribution from the people who shot them. Chamkila’s friends and some fellow artists brought all their mortal remains back to Ludhiana. The news of his death was spread throughout the state, and everyone was in a state of shock at how he was killed. 

Was The DSP Interested In Knowing About Chamkila?

The local city DSP and his subordinates were at the gates of Chamkila’s home in no time where his and his wife’s mortal remains were kept. The policeman was not sure why he was assigned to guard the body. The friends and associates of Chamkila were present there to retell the story of the famed singer. The DSP was keen to know the story of a man who started from nowhere but ended up becoming the Punjabi artist to have sold the highest number of records. Chamkila and his friends Prithipal Singh Dhakkan and Kikar Dalewala began to share the story of a man who began his life as a worker at a cloth factory and who was passionate about singing. He cut his hair, to his father’s dismay, because he was a fan of Amitabh Bachchan. Amar Singh auditioned in front of Jatinder Jinda, another famous local artist from back in the day, who was elated to have found a talent like him. Jinda toured many cities with Amar Singh for performances, and the man was happy to be following his passion. 


How Did Amar Singh Begin His Career?

Amar Singh Chamkila began his career as a singer when Jinda did not appear early for his show. Jinda’s absence turned into a blessing in disguise for Amar Singh who wanted to be introduced as Amar Singh Sandila. The host introduced him as Amar Singh Chamkila, and the crowd burst into jubilation for his singing and his lyrics. The female singer Sonia and her husband/manager Kashmiri Lal refused to sing with him and referred to him as a servant, implying his caste was beneath them. Amar Singh was unperturbed by any taunts coming his way, but he took the opportunity and owned it, and this was the start of his career, which put Jinda far behind in the race to become a renowned artist.

What Made Him And Tikka Go Solo?

Amar Singh Chamkila was slowly gaining popularity across the state, as his songs had become hugely popular. Even though the lyrics were borderline vulgar and risqué, the percentage of people enjoying his music, voice, and lyrics was still very high. Joining his popularity was Sonia, who previously sang with Jinda. Kashmiri Lal, the manager, was receiving the most money from Chamkila’s success. Amar Singh was backed by his best friend Tikka, who played the dholak, and wanted the former to receive most of the profits after every stage performance. Tikka’s claims were right, as the music and lyrics were composed by Chamkila, but he received the bare minimum of money after the performances. Kashmiri Lal and Sonia were livid at this demand and threw them out in no time. Kashmiri Lal again brought up the subject of their caste before removing them from their troupe. The unceremonious exit from the group made Chamkila form his own troupe along with Tikka, and they never looked back ever since. 


How Did He Meet Amarjot?

Amar Singh Chamkila and Tikka were desperately looking for a female singer who would stick with the group beyond one performance. They couldn’t find the right singer until an old man brought his daughter Amarjot and claimed she was a good singer. She was aware of the kind of songs he wrote and was willing to be part of the troupe that had slowly begun to perform around the country as well. Amarjot and Chamkila’s love story was slow and steady as they began to like each other’s company through their tours. They eloped and married despite heavy opposition from her family regarding his caste, but they chose to stick to each other. 

What Was The First Obstacle He Faced After Marrying Amarjot?

Amarjot’s family was the least of Chamkila’s concerns after the wedding, as he was bombarded with many expletives from his brother-in-law about his first marriage. No one was aware, including Tikka of his first wife, Gurmail, who felt abandoned as Chamkila chose Amarjot over her. The man was questioned by society, including the panchayat, but chose to close the matter using his charm. The other obstacle he faced was receiving backlash from his current wife’s family about the lyrics he wrote about women and Amarjot’s willingness to sing them with a lot of boldness and confidence. Her father could not say much because he was instrumental in making them meet, but the rest of the family and the people outside of Chamkila’s circle were livid at the kind of vulgar lyrics that were being sung publicly. They were ashamed, but Chamkila and his wife were far from being affected by what society had to say about them because they were popular for a reason. 


Which Was The First Group To Threaten Him?

Certain people became an issue of concern when Chamkila and his friends received a death threat at their office out of nowhere. All were worried for the first time in a long while and wondered if the threat was from ‘the Force’ whose growing influence in the state was worrisome. Chamkila was frightened, and he wondered if he should do something or talk to someone about the matter at hand. 

How Did Chamkila Meet Sivia?

The death threat had Chamkila meet Swayam Singh Sivia, an income tax officer who became his good friend eventually.  In the current timeline of the film, Sivia reached Ludhiana in the middle of the night to have a look at the mortal remains of Chamkila and Amarjot. He shared the story of his friendship with Chamkila with the DSP. They met on the day when Chamkila received the death threat. The singer assumed he was part of ‘the Force that could be bribed into silence. Sivia revealed himself to be the IT officer who was appalled to see Chamkila stocking his home with a lot of undisclosed cash. He was enamored by Chamkila’s innocence, which helped him get in touch with his spiritual side. Sivia introduced Chamkila to many religious figures who asked him to give up his life of singing vulgar songs and take his religion seriously. Chamkila, with the help of his newfound friend, ventured into religious songs and became popular in that genre as well. In shock and confusion at this, many people in the audience at several performances demanded that he sing his old songs. 


Chamkila initially refused to sing them because of the promise he made, but the amount of demands he received was overwhelming, which forced him to resort to his old songs. Chamkila was revered by his audience, and they made him popular. The demand from his audience was more important to him than the few people who claimed to dislike his lyrics. Sivia never left his side, despite him coming back to his old popular songs, but she was worried about people and their extreme reactions. 

Were His Foreign Tours A Success?

Amar Singh Chamkila’s foreign tours became a huge success. He had gone to Bahrain and Canada for several live performances. Right before the trip, Chamkila and Tikka had a falling out since the singer never took his friend on the tour to Canada. It was believed that Chamkila could not trust that Tikka would stay with the troupe and might disappear to Canada for better job prospects. This is purely a matter of speculation, as there was never any confirmation about why Tikka was kept out of the Canada tour. Tikka was hurt, and he never reunited with Chamkila for any performance in India. 


Despite the tour of Canada being a success, Chamkila was surrounded by many traditionalists and conservative Sikhs based in Canada who approached him rather rudely and demanded he abandon his style of lyrics and singing as it offended their faith. Chamkila was tired of hearing such threats and never came around to the unanimous hatred several groups had for him, even though he was selling out most of his live performances.

What Was Chamkila’s Biggest Conflict?

Chamkila’s biggest conflict was to keep his troupe intact despite having received many death threats by now. Several of his troupe members left him, fearing for their lives. Chamkila was not afraid anymore of threats coming his way because he believed in destiny. He was not afraid of death anymore, as he’d grown a thick skin, knowing that no matter what he did, he would be criticized for his work, which was enjoyed by many in the state and around the country. The film claimed there was an attack on his car as well, but Chamkila refused to back away and continued performing. He received a lot of backlash for performing during the 1980s, when Punjab was marred by insurgencies that killed many in the state. Chamkila was in two minds about performing, but a music label owner pacified him to be someone people could turn to during troubled times and become an entertainer. Chamkila was also accused of allegedly having links with militant groups and was asked by the police not to entertain them.


What Happened In The End?

Chamkila was genuinely afraid when some gunmen entered his home and yet again threatened him to stop singing vulgar songs as they believed it ruined the fabric of society. Chamkila’s wife, Amarjot, could not help but ponder the consequences of their live performances, and she was afraid for the first time, since they were parents now. Chamkila used part of the money he made in all these years and requested the gunmen not bother them further. This was probably the only way to keep everyone at bay. 

Chamkila believed in his talent, which made him popular; he was not willing to be derailed by people who never tried to get the essence of the songs he sang. People enjoyed his songs in public and in the privacy of their homes, but many criticized him because it was the ‘in thing.’ He pacified Amarjot by making her understand that he was popular because of the audience and that he could never betray them. Amarjot was fearful but she never left her husband and she kept performing everywhere. 


Amarjot and Chamkila had their last conversation about their next venue, and soon they were shot dead by some gunmen. There was never any proper investigation done to find out if these gunmen were the same people who’d visited their doorstep and threatened them. As morning dawns, Amarjot’s parents appear to be mourning their deaths, but they were quick to accumulate all the money and other wealth made by their daughter and her husband. There was again no clarity as to whether this happened. They wanted to take it all away before anyone raided their home. Chamkila’s mother was anguished at Amarjot’s parents’ actions, and rightly so. They were more concerned about the money and forgot to mourn the deaths of two popular singers who were killed for being honest about their craft. 

The DSP on reaching home after a long night encouraged his son to listen to Chamkila whenever he felt like it. After learning of the story of the man behind the microphone, the DSP couldn’t help but be the change he wanted to bring to the state, and since charity begins at home, Chamkila’s songs were not out of bounds anymore at his home. The media also asked many questions on the day the case of Chamkila’s murder was permanently closed. The movie ended with a montage of images of Chamkila, his wife, and friends, as well as where all the remaining troupe members and buddies were after the murder. The post-credit scene had the cast recreate the original Chamkila music video with his wife, which was an ode to the singer, who dared to be different and refused to be bogged down by society’s idea of censorship. 


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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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