‘Amar Singh Chamkila’ True Story, Explained: Did The Police Find Chamkila & Amarjot’s Killers In Real-Life?


Amar Singh Chamkila, directed by Imtiaz Ali, is the biopic of one of the most controversial singers of his time. On March 8, 1988, Chamkila was shot dead by unknown assailants in broad daylight. The entire murder case became an enigma not only for the law enforcement authorities but also for the people who knew him and who were fans of his work. So, let’s find out what happened with Amar Singh Chamkila in real life, why he became such a controversial figure, and if any creative liberties have been taken in the film by Imtiaz and his co-writer Sajid Ali.

Spoiler Alert

Why did Chamkila’s song create controversy? 

Chamkila didn’t come from a very privileged background, and he had seen his share of struggles before becoming a sensation in the Punjabi industry. The man was a die-hard Amitabh Bachchan fan, and probably that’s why he sported those sidelocks with a lot of panache. Chamkila’s life was an irony in itself, as on one end, his popularity grew, and on the other end, there was a sect of society that was extremely against the kind of lyrics he wrote for his songs. People said that he promoted perverseness, and they just couldn’t tolerate what they referred to as “obscene behavior.” It was too hypocritical for them to have such views because what they said to be obscenity was an integral part of the majoritarian mindset.

Chamkila didn’t come from any other planet; he was pretty much a part of that same society, and he wrote about what he saw around him. He heard those pervert talks when he was growing up, and he felt that society was already debauched by the lecherous mindset of men. I believe Chamkila’s case was quite similar to that of Sidhu Moose Wala, who was shot dead on May 29, 2022. Moosewala’s lyrics were quite explicit in nature, and he talked about a lot of political issues from a very blunt perspective. He was accused of promoting a culture of violence, hatred, and aggression. However, nobody understood that addressing the controversial issues was probably not equivalent to promoting or glorifying them. Chamkila talked about all those repressed feelings and emotions that were inside a majority of people, the only difference being that society didn’t mind entertaining those thoughts behind closed doors. 

There is a scene in Amar Singh Chamkila where the singer tries to understand where he went wrong and why people wanted to ban his performances and songs. He said very bluntly that if society had so much trouble with his lyrics, then how come he heard those kinds of lurid talks around him during his formative years? As controversial as it might have been, it was his artistic expression, and nobody had any right to stop him from doing so. There is no denying that Chamkila’s lyrics were misogynistic, but the question is, did they speak about the kind of man he was, or did they tell us the kind of men that were in society? 

Did Chamkila marry twice? 

It is true that Chamkila was already married to Gurmail Kaur when he met Amarjot Kaur and fell in love with her. Chamkila married Amarjot Kaur, and that caused a lot of controversy as he hadn’t divorced his first wife at that time. Now, the film takes a very lighthearted approach to the issue, and it shows how Chamkila went in front of the panchayat, gave a fiery speech, and convinced everybody to accept his second marriage. Chamkila married Gurmail Kaur when he was quite young, and he never felt that kind of affection or closeness to her. There came a point where Amarjot Kaur’s family told her that she couldn’t continue to perform with Chamkila as they were both single, and society would question their professional relationship and character. Chamkila hadn’t told anyone that he was married, and when he realized what was happening at Amarjot Kaur’s end, he took the decision to marry her. I believe no matter what the reason might have been, the situation could have been dealt with in a much more sensible fashion from Chamkila’s end. We don’t know exactly what kind of relationship he had with Gurmail Kaur, but she deserved to be treated in a better manner. Today, Gurmail stays with her daughter, Amandeep, in India, while her second daughter, Kamaldeep, is settled in Canada.

Did The Police Find Chamkila & Amarjot’s Killers In Real-Life?

It is true that Amar Singh Chamkila was called in by the leaders of various communities, and he was told to stop singing those songs that apparently harmed the culture. It was basically a threat, and Chamkila realized that the consequences of not adhering to those commands could prove to be quite fateful for him. So he stopped making those songs, and that’s when he collaborated with Swarn Sivia. His religious songs also became chartbusters, but the problem was that when Chamkila went for a live performance, people wanted him to sing his old songs. Chamkila, as shown in the film, was the kind of man who could never say no to his audience. He gave in to their wishes, and that created a problem for him in the later stages. 

As depicted in the film, Chamkila and his wife, Amarjot Kaur, stepped out of their vehicle when some masked shooters on motorcycles shot them dead. To date, the law enforcement authorities haven’t been able to find the perpetrators. Some said that Chamkila’s killing was carried out by people belonging to the Khalistani movement. But still, there was no evidence to prove that fact. There were people who said that it was his rivals who got jealous of him because, at that point in time, Chamkila was one of the highest-paid singers. Musicians who were quite senior to him also found themselves out of jobs because Chamkila took all the limelight. It is a failure on the part of the law enforcement authorities that the perpetrators, after committing such a heinous crime in broad daylight, are still roaming free. Today, Amar Singh Chamkila’s son, Jaiman, carries forward the legacy of his father, and I hope Imtiaz Ali’s film will also give him the credit he deserves and make him more accessible to a broader spectrum of people. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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