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Amar Singh Chamkila & Amarjot

Amar Singh Chamkila was born as Dunni Ram on July 21, 1961 in the village of Dugri near Ludhiana, Punjab, India. The youngest child of Kartar Kaur and Hari Singh, he was educated at Gujar Khan Primary School in Dugri. His aspirations of becoming an electrician were unfulfilled and he found work at a Ludhiana cloth mill.
With a natural aptitude for music, he learned to play the harmonium and dholki and won himself the opportunity to play alongside Punjabi folk artists such as K. Deep, Mohammad Saddiq and Surinder Shinda.He wrote several songs for Shinda and accompanied him as a member of his entourage before deciding to pursue a solo career. He was married and subsequently divorced. He had one son and one daughter.

Adopting the name Amar Singh Chamkila – Chamkila in Punjabi means one that glitters – he partnered up with the female vocalist Surinder Sonia and recorded eight duets. The record was released in 1979 and was produced by Charanjit Ahuja. The cleverly worded songs, which he had written himself, became hits across Punjab and paved the way for the unique lyrical mastery his fans would come to expect.

In 1980, Chamkila left Sonia and established a short-lived stage relationship with Miss Usha. He left Miss Usha in the same year in favor of teaming up with a female folk singer named Amarjot. She would become Chamkila’s permanent singing partner providing the female vocals for his duets, that is, the majority of the songs that he wrote.

Chamkila wrote his own lyrics, the majority of which were boyish, suggestive and titillating, and yet fluent, commentaries on extra-marital affairs, alcohol and drugs. The couple’s appeal grew not only in the Punjab, but they quickly raced to international stardom among Punjabis abroad. By the early 1980s, Chamkila and Amarjot had recorded hugely successful LPs on the HMV label and they toured Canada, USA, Dubai and Bahrain. They were also commonly booked for wedding parties, charging a reported Rs. 4000 per...


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