Real-Life Swarn Sivia In ‘Amar Singh Chamkila’: Did Swarn Write Songs For Chamkila?


Amar Singh Chamkila made us privy to a character named Swarn Sivia, who came to the protagonist’s house after he got the news of his demise. Chamkila’s death became a mystery for the entire nation, and the perpetrators were never caught. Accusations were made against a lot of people, but the law enforcement authorities could never find solid evidence to incriminate a person and put them behind bars. The character of Swarn Singh Sivia is inspired by a real-life person who was a songwriter, and he collaborated with many Punjabi musicians at that time. Sivia was born in Uppal, and he always wanted to do something in the field of music. 

Sivia met Chamkila by sheer chance when he was working in a government job. This was the time period when Chamkila realized that if he kept singing the songs that were viewed as being vulgar, then he would put his and his family’s lives in danger. Chamkila resisted for the longest time, and he believed that the warnings and threats were just made to scare him. Soon, however, he realized that the threat was real and that the people he was up against could go to any level to establish their authority. Chamkila met leaders of various communities, and he told them that he would stop singing those songs. 

Swarn Singh Sivia wrote a few songs for Chamkila, and those became an overnight sensation. It was weird because Chamkila was known for singing songs with explicit lyrics, and because of the threat, he had decided to make religious songs. At first, Chamkila’s well-wishers and the entire team thought that people wouldn’t accept him if he composed religious songs, but they were proven wrong. “Naam Jap Le” and “Baba Tera Nankana” were two songs that created a rage, and there used to be lines standing outside music stores to buy the cassettes. 

The lyrics were written by Swarn Singh Sivia, and the magic onstage was created by Chamkila through his catchy music and great performance. Sivia respected both Chamkila and his wife, Amarjot Kaur, and in the film, we saw how deeply disheartened he was when he found out that Amar Singh Chamkila and Amarjot Kaur had been shot by unknown assailants. The police officers had no clue that Chamkila had composed songs like “Baba Tera Nankana,” and in their minds, they believed him to be a singer who was spoiling the culture and spreading vulgarity. 

Sivia wanted to share some perspective, as he felt it was really unfair how society had branded Chamkila for something to which they themselves contributed in a huge manner. People came in huge numbers to attend Chamkila’s concert, but then they were the same people who spoke poorly about him and told people that he was not a worthy man. The most tragic part of that entire incident, which even Sivia felt, was that Chamkila had stopped writing that kind of lyrics, and his only crime was that he sang his old songs whenever the audience demanded them during the concerts.

People had problems with that, too, because they didn’t see that he was just doing what the public told him to. Sivia told the officers that Chamkila wrote what he saw around him, and in that way, the lyrics depicted the debauched mindset of society. There was sadness in Sivia’s eyes, and one could perceive the kind of loss the man felt. He knew it was unfair; he knew that Chamkila was not a bad man; he knew that Amarjot Kaur was not at fault. 

The fact that deeply disheartened him even more was that even after the demise of the artist, people were trying to justify the act of murder. Sivia’s point was very simple: even if he didn’t adhere to the so-called ethics of society, killing him was wrong. But after talking to the police officers, he realized that they wouldn’t do anything because they already had their preconceived notions, and in their view, Chamkila had signed up for it a long time ago. Yes, the lyrics were perverse because that’s how society was. The fact that Chamkila’s shows were hits was proof that he just tapped into the fantasies of the males and females of that generation, and the craze was so great that he went on to become the highest-ranking musician among his contemporaries. Swarn Singh Sivia passed away on January 2, 2023, and the entire Punjabi music industry mourned the loss.

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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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