Real-Life Amarjot Kaur In ‘Amar Singh Chamkila’: How Did She Become A Singer?


Imtiaz Ali’s musical drama film Amar Singh Chamkila takes us back to the Punjab of the 1980s, when a young singer was gaining a lot of popularity, and his explicit lyrics and captivating performances struck a chord with the audience. Amar Singh Chamkila was married to a woman named Gurmail Kaur, but he kept that fact hidden from the people around him. No one knew that the singer had tied the knot before. A famous singer named Kuldeep Manak introduced Amarjot Kaur to Chamkila in those times. At that point in time, Chamkila was looking for a female vocalist for his “akhadas,” or stage shows. He had performed with a few singers for a couple of shows, but before these artists would get in sync with him, they would leave his band for different reasons. It was an unnecessary hassle to find a female voice every time, and Chamkila often got annoyed in front of Tikki and asked him to do something about the situation. That’s when Amarjot Kaur came with her father and met Chamkila. 

Amarjot was a simple, quiet, and shy girl coming from a very conservative family, and Chamkila was evidently attracted to her the moment he saw her. Amarjot spent most of her childhood in Faridkot, and she completed her matriculation there. Amarjot Kaur never got any training in Indian classical music, and she was a naturally gifted person. Amarjot recorded her first album with Pyara Singh Panchi, a famous Punjabi singer. After that, she joined Kuldeep Manak and earned a good name for herself in the music industry. But what connected them more was their mutual love and respect for singing. As soon as Amarjot sang before Chamkila, he knew from that very moment that their association was going to last a long time. Finally, because of Chamkila’s luck and the duo’s chemistry, both Amarjot and Chamkila became extremely popular on the outskirts of Punjab. They were in huge demand among the public, and their calendar was flooded with bookings. 

However, contrary to what we saw in the Netflix film, Amarjot, too, was married to someone before she met Chamkila. In real life, Amarjot had separated from her husband because she wanted to pursue a career in music. Considering it was still the 1980s and patriarchy was at its peak, I would say that it was a pretty bold decision on her part. I am quite sure that Amarjot Kaur would have heard a lot of things from her own people, and if she was still able to prioritize her career, then it is safe to assume that she was a very strong-headed woman. In the film, we saw that Amarjot Kaur got deeply hurt when she got to know that Chamkila already had a wife. However, judging from Amarjot’s true story, it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that both Amarjot and Chamkila had an understanding of the matter, as both were married before they met each other. The film, on the other hand, took some creative liberties to reshape her character.

Amarjot gave birth to a son named Jaiman Chamkila, and everything was going great in the lives of the couple. They had captured the entire market, and people came in huge crowds to see them perform. The best part was that the couple wanted to only be a hit in India but they got very popular in places like Canada, too. The Canada tour was a success, and being a couple and performing together became their USP. It was often said that had Amarjot not been there, Chamkila wouldn’t have been such a huge star. 

Amarjot was obviously very scared when she got to know that her husband was receiving threats. She had never intentionally hurt anybody, and she believed that there was no reason for people to be this hostile towards them. But Amarjot didn’t fully understand the treacherous world. She was an innocent girl who just wanted to pursue her passion and keep entertaining people. She didn’t understand how the lyrics written by her husband could hurt the sentiments of so many people. March 8, 1988, was that fateful day when Amarjot Kaur and Chamkila stepped out of their vehicles and were shot by a few masked men who came out of nowhere. The poor couple didn’t do anything to deserve such treatment, and the worst aspect was that the perpetrators were never caught. Today, the legacy left by Amarjot and Chamkila is not known by the majority, and I hope that this film makes the people aware of who they were and helps them form their decisions and ascertain whether the kind of songs they sang were hampering our culture or not. 

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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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