Imtiaz Ali: ‘We enlisted a singing diction teacher who trained both Parineeti and Diljit’

Parineeti Chopra and Diljit Dosanjh in Amar Singh Chamkila. Photo: IMDb / Weber-Shandwick

Imtiaz Ali recently appeared on the IMDb original series, On The Scene, to discuss his newly-released biographical directorial, Amar Singh Chamkila. The movie is based on the real-life singer duo Amar Singh Chamkila and Amarjot Kaur, whose songs became massive hits in the 80s. The director shared interesting insights about the movie, including how he convinced Diljit Dosanjh to play Chamkila and the challenges Parineeti Chopra faced in recreating Amarjot’s music.

When asked how he convinced Diljit to play Chamkila, considering he had already portrayed a character loosely based on him before in the 2023 Punjabi film, Jodi, Ali said, “When I spoke to Diljit, I assumed that since he is a musician, he would have heard about Chamkila from his childhood, especially being from the same area as Chamkila. So he knew everything about Chamkila. When I spoke to him for the first time, I found out that he had already made a film loosely inspired by Chamkila’s life events. However, I had specific knowledge because I had conducted thorough research. I listened to stories and met people who knew Chamkila and Amarjot 36 years ago when they were alive. I met Tikki, who played the dholak and was Chamkila’s close friend. He was a mercurial character who greatly influenced Chamkila.”

Ali further added, “I met Tikki several times. He became emotional and shared things with me that he later regretted or corrected. This was because I met him on multiple occasions. He even mentioned that he had cursed Chamkila to die. So for me, research involved meeting the people Chamkila had encountered, visiting places where Chamkila had lived, such as the office space in Ludhiana where all the artistes and singers congregated. As my interest grew, I met more people in Punjab. It’s interesting because Chamkila had a knack for entertaining the masses, and understanding what works with the masses is a quality all artistes and filmmakers would love to possess.”

For the live songs, Imtiaz said that it helped that Diljit considers himself first as a singer and musician, not as actor. But the music eased his acting.

Asked about the challenges Parineeti Chopra faced in recreating Amarjot’s music, Ali remarked, “Chamkila’s compositions are always very high-pitched, so for a woman to match that was extremely difficult. When a woman and a man sing at the same note and scale, it becomes more difficult for the woman because her voice is thinner, and Amarjot’s parts were sometimes composed even higher by Chamkila. In real life, Amarjot had a problem singing on such high notes. Parineeti Chopra faced a similar challenge in the film, where she had to sing very high all the time, which is quite difficult. She’s primarily an actor, not a professional singer, so she practiced rigorously. We also enlisted the help of a singing diction teacher named Kittu from Ludhiana, who trained both Parineeti and Diljit. We knew they would be singing live, so we ensured they were well-prepared.”



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