Amar Singh Chamkila Is The Story of A True Radical

By Louie Fecou
Published: April 12, 2024 (Last updated: last month)
Is Amar Singh Chamkila on Netflix based on a true story?
Amar Singh Chamkila | Image via Netflix

Amar Singh Chamkila focuses on the true story of a young factory worker who became a bit of a phenomenon at the height of his popularity in the 1980s. Chamkila’s controversial music led to his assassination along with his wife Amarjot Kaur and two of their associates.

Those familiar with the controversial singer will no doubt be interested in the musical Netflix biopic, while others like me, who have no idea who he was, will be able to learn what all the fuss was about.

Amar Singh Chamkila Is A True Story Of A Rising Rockstar

Amar Singh Chamkila is based on a true story, particularly the life of the titular musician which would reach a tragic end. But there’s more about that later. Punjab’s rebel singer would make many enemies on the way to the top, angering those who were shocked by his lyrics and music, which often covered topics such as sex and drugs and violent rock n roll.

Of course, a generation would revel in the madness, encouraging his shocking anti-establishment stances, and let’s face it, that’s what music has always done, no matter when you study it. This story has everything, including a rags-to-riches narrative, a popular lead in the main role, and a tragic, heartbreaking ending. It’s no wonder Netflix went for this project in the first place.

What is Amar Singh Chamkila about?

The film covers the rise and tragic fall of the eighties pop idol and reveals that Amar came from a working-class background, making a meager living at the local mill, but finding a voice, and audience, through his music, and his stage name Chamkila.

Director Imtiaz Ali sticks closely to the real-life rise to fame, recreating the era and music of the time, and is no stranger to the genre, having dabbled in musical films before with his 2011 feature Rockstar. In fact, after working with Irshad Kamil and double Oscar winner A.R. Rahman on that project, he would ask to collaborate with them again on this one, no doubt hoping that they will have another hit on their hands.


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What happened to Amar Singh Chamkila?

Is Amar Singh Chamkila on Netflix based on a true story?

Star Diljit Dosanjh and director Imtiaz Ali

Shockingly, the singer and his partner at the time would be killed in what can only be called an assassination in 1988. The fatal attack would also take the lives of two of his band, and strangely, there is not an awful lot of information about exactly what happened and who did it.

Even today, there have been no arrests made in connection with the horrific killings. It was reported that the killers would drive by on motorcycles and start shooting at their targets. It has been suggested that the killings came about due to the nature of Chamkila’s lyrics, particularly at a time when there was a lot of unrest in Punjab. This is a likely theory based on the politics of the time.

There is another theory that hints that Chamkila’s marriage may have angered the family of his wife, also leading to the attack, but nothing has ever been proven. Numerous conspiracy theories would arise surrounding the events, adding to the legend behind the artist.

Sadly, this is a final act that seems to happen a lot in the music industry.


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