Amar Singh Chamkila: Is Tikki Based on a Real Person? Where is He Now?

With Netflix’s ‘Amar Singh Chamkila‘ delving deep into the incredible tale of the titular Punjabi singer from his early days of struggle to his world domination to his assassination, we get a biographical drama unlike any other. After all, it not only mourns the loss of a young life but also serves as an ode to the power of music, love, family, and friendship, along with how they can all survive even something as permanent as death. Though if we’re being honest, amongst it all, it was Chamkila’s band member turned closest confidant Kesar Singh Tikki who intrigued us the most with his seemingly blind ambition combined with his blind loyalty.

Kesar Singh Tikki Is As Real As Can Be

Considering the fact that filmmaker Imtiaz Ali took on this project as a fictionalized representation of a very true story, all the characters involved hold a lot of truth and reality to them. In other words, despite the fact some creative liberties have been taken in the portrayal of Tikki, the essence of him has actually been inspired by a real individual by the same name. And it turns out that he was indeed the first one to come across Chamkila as he was hoping to land a meeting with his mentor Surinder Shinda (Jatinder Jinda in the film), which ultimately kickstarted his whole career.

According to Tikki’s own words in an old interview, he didn’t want to entertain Chamkila or his request initially but decided to hear some of his music nonetheless to assess whether he could even sing or not. That’s when he realized the latter did have an innate sense of talent as well as a cunning way with words, driving him to take him to the aforementioned famous folk singer, for whom he was a dhol player. Though little did he know things would soon turn upside down – when Surinder ended up doing a Canada tour alone, he joined recent soloist/duet performer Chamkila as a dhol player and inner enterable member.

It thus comes as no surprise Tikki has often taken credit for discovering Chamkila and enabling him to rise in the competitive music world, especially since he did use his connections to land some deals initially. But then it was as if work was coming to them – more work than they could ever say yes to because there are only 24 hours in a day – that is, until the community turned on Chamkila for releasing provocative songs. They’re the same songs that made him famous across the world owing to audience demand, yet it was an issue in the big picture owing to cultural, religious, as well as social impacts.

Then came the mid-1980s and Chamkila reportedly did the same thing Surinder had done – he undertook a Canada tour without Tikki by his side, hurting the latter to such an extent he cursed him to die. As per reports, there was truly a time when he couldn’t even look at the singer’s face, let alone work with him, which is how he survived the March 8, 1988 assassination of him, his second wife Amarjot Kaur, and their band. In other words, Tikki wasn’t a part of them or their group anymore; he was simply someone who’d evolved into a stranger to Chamkila; they weren’t even on acquaintance terms anymore.

Tikki is Still Based in Punjab

From what we can tell, despite the fact Tikki willingly parted ways with Chamkila for good before continuing down the music path, he could never secure the kind of success he did with his once friend. Therefore, today, in his 60s, it appears as if he still resides in his homeland of Punjab, where he’s still trying to make it in the industry while also reminiscing about the past in both a positive and negative manner. According to reports, while he does often look back on his time with Chamkila with a smile, he genuinely regrets the way things panned out and worries if it was his curse that eventually led to the brutal assassination.

Read More: Jatinder Jinda: Is He Based on Chamkila’s Real Mentor?