jattan di jaan
A Brief Biography
Chamkila was born "Dunni Ram" on July 21st 1961
in Dugri, Ludhiana. Chamkila was from a poor family and lived in great poverty. He had one brother and two sisters whom were
older than him. His mother, Kartar Kaur, passed away when Chamkila was a young child, and his older sisters and father used
to take care of him.
Chamkila had always wanted to become an electrician but due to family difficulties he had to
leave his education and work in Ludhiana in a cloth mill. Chamkila had one of his first songs sang by "Narinder Biba and Surinder
Sharma" by the age of 10. The majority of Chamkila's earlier songs had lyrics to do with electricity such as shock and connection
etc, due to the fact he wanted to become an electrician.
Chamkila was a talented musician from a young age and used
to play the dholki and vaja for pocket money whilst still at school. He later played the dholki for singers such as Surinder
Shinda, K.deep, Jagmohan Kaur and M.Siddque.By the age of 15 he had a number of songs sung by famous Punjabi folk singers,
such as Surinder Shinda, Narinder Biba, Kulie Ram, Bibi Tara and Sohan Lal etc.
The name Chamkila comes from the name Rangila, who used to be a folk singer that Chamkila admired greatly. Chamkila
comes from the word "Chamak" (shine) as he wanted to shine forever in the world of music. Chamkila began to play the dholki
and vaja for Surinder Shinda regularly. It was here that Chamkila began to make his stage career as he would perform on Shinda's
stage during intervals.
Chamkila soon went solo leaving Shinda. When Chamkila left, he took Surinder Sonia, and much
of Shinda's band and stage comedian. Chamkila and Surinder Sonia released their first record in 1979. Punjabi Folk fans
grew fond of Chamkila's style quickly as he had a very charismatic personality. In addition to singing his own songs he continued
to write and sell his songs to other artists.
Chamkila left Sonia in 1980 and began singing with Miss Usha, which
was only a stage arrangement. By late 1980 he heard of a famous female singer called Amarjyot who sang with Kuldip Manak..
She soon became his permanent singing partner.
At the time of joining with Amarjyot, Chamkila was married. This partnership
with Amarjyot lead to a break up of his marriage in December of 1982. Their first LP record together was "Lack Mera Kach Varga"
which included a song written by Pali Dethawalia entitled "Chack Lo Drivero".
People began to become offended by the
fact Chamkila was of the "Chamaar" caste and Amarjyot a "Tharkani". Due to this Chamkila began to use Singh in his name and
became Amar Singh. Chamkila rarely used his first name after that. It also became a rarity for him to mention the name of
his pind when writing songs.
By 1984 Chamkila and Amarjyot were in high demand and were producing hit LP after LP
with new songs all written by Chamkila. The songs that Chamkila sang were mainly about relationships which some people found
offensive. Chamkila began to get hate mail and threats to his life.
In the early 80's, Chamkila such countries as,
USA, Canada, Dubai and Bahrain. Accompanying Chamkila on stage would be comedians (Tukuan or Mano) who would do impressions
of Mehal Mittal. His shows lasted about 2-3 hours and every show began with a few religious songs.
Chamkila continued to get more and more hate mail but Chamkila always said "this is my music this is what I sing if you don't
like it, then don't buy my records and don't call me to your functions". In HMV's recording history, 3 of Chamkila's LP records
are still the highest selling records that were ever produced by a Punjabi singer.
After receiving more letters from
angry fans saying Chamkila you have many songs containing vulgar and offensive lyrics. Do something good. Chamkila produced
3 LP records of dharmik geet (religious songs). His religious songs became number 1 hits. Chamkila however, only wrote a few
religious songs himself. Most of them he bought from other writers. All profits that came from the religious songs went direct
to the charities and local gurudwara's. This was done as Chamkila said it was God who gave him the gift of music and what
better way to say thank you to God.
By late 1985 Chamkila stopped singing his more offensive songs. The public was
still unhappy and wanted Chamkila to stop singing altogether. Chamkila started to write and sing songs which were of a very
Chamkila was killed in a show in "Mesumpur" as
he stepped out of his car. Amarjyot was pregnant at the time and was shot in the chest and Chamkila was killed with 4 bullets
in the chest alongside Gill Surjit and the dholki player Raja. The other members such as Tukham escaped. The blame was put
on terrorists. A Curfew order took place when Chamkila was killed and riots between gangs broke out.
on the 8th March 1988. The reasoning behind his death is not fully known. Many people have speculated that Chamkila was killed
because of jealousy of other singers. It is said that the others singers grouped together and got him killed. But then again
their were many other popular singers, Why Chamkila?