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Two can play this game

Updated on: 19 April,2024 05:09 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Priyanka Sharma |

Even as Chamkila’s songs continue to divide audience over their raunchy lyrics, Amar Singh Chamkila maker Imtiaz notes singer’s duets showed women as ‘smarter and naughtier’

Two can play this game

A still from Amar Singh Chamkila

Imtiaz Ali’s Amar Singh Chamkila has won unanimous praise. The director’s masterful storytelling and Diljit Dosanjh’s honest performance has endeared the slain Punjabi singer to the audiences. The musician’s songs though—which, in his lifetime, were wildly popular, but abhorred by a section of the society, who felt they objectified women—are a different story. But Ali believes that Chamkila wasn’t a sexist man. 

“In Punjab and everywhere else, I’ve seen that the sangeet songs in shaadis are always vulgar. There’s a reason for it—women are naughtier than men. Their naughtiness comes out through music,” reasons the director. He points out another aspect in the late Chamkila’s creations. “In his music, the women are smarter and equally participative. They are teasing the men. The first song that Chamkila sang on stage is about an old man who is trying to say that he is young and virile, and the woman is making fun of him. It’s not that the woman is being objectified all the time. It’s an equal relationship.” 

Imtiaz AliImtiaz Ali

Through the musical, Ali neither glorifies nor decries Chamkila’s songs. He doesn’t glorify the protagonist either. The director was certain he didn’t want to make a hagiography. “When you tell the story of someone’s life, you should represent all aspects of it. I don’t like biopics that endlessly glorify the [protagonist]; that becomes boring. I had to present the human side of Chamkila. He wasn’t a [flawless] person. But I was sure of his intrinsic good qualities—he didn’t come across as a star, he was always a servant of the masses. He came from the most disadvantaged background; he was humble.” 

Though the Netflix film delves into his partnership with his singer-wife Amarjot Kaur, played by Parineeti Chopra, it largely shows her as muted. “I relied on my research. This is how Amarjot always comes across, in the narration of people or in her videos. Plus, the film had to wrap up in a certain duration. Maybe, someone can make a film on Amarjot now,” he smiles. 

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