Director: Jay Ahmed
Cast: AP Dhillon, Gurinder Gill, Shinda Kahlon and others
Where: Amazon Prime Video
Rating: 3 stars
You know his music but how much of his story is known? With over a million fans across the globe and billions of streaming counts across leading digital music listening platforms to his credit, singer/songwriter/producer AP Dhillon is India’s most recent musical gift to the world. The most heard artiste on Spotify in 2022 who is known for hits such as Excuses, Brown Munde, Insane and Summer High, little is known about the 30-year-old musician in the public domain.
Chronicling his journey across four episodes, director Jay Anand and Amazon Prime Video present a two-hours-long feature that touches upon the life of Amritpal Singh Dhillon, a young lad from Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, who travelled the distance to leave an indelible mark in the world of music, by his own terms and bearing.
Does it succeed in covering what it claims? Let’s dissect.
With academic credentials that aren’t entirely favourable to look at, Amritpal’s only solace and purpose in life lies in music. Bearing hope and support from his single father and grandmother, a young AP lands in Vancouver, Canada with little to no means of survival. From battling language barriers to working odd jobs to secure a livelihood, the docu-series explores how Dhillon finds his calling and puts together his collective, while he meets his eventual collaborators along the way including Gurinder Gill (vocalist), Shinda Kahlon (lyricist/producer) and G Minor (producer).
From the very first frame, the series holds your attention. When you watch Dhillon greet a packed show, you immediately know that the world can only see the visual of fulfilment and fame, but little can be gauged about the years of blood, sweat and tears that go behind carving that tale of success. For the ardent fandom, AP Dhillon: First Of A Kind calls for mandatory viewing. Shot exquisitely by Nick Deitrich, Amit N, Ollie Richards, Roger Singh, Tom Swindell and Jason Wessel, you get a fly-on-the-wall account of how Dhillon and his collective mates gather to nurture a composition and eventually provide a wholesome musical experience for the ultimate listener. From writing the first note to performing at a sold-out show, viewers can ascertain every beat of what goes behind building one’s musical entity.
What helps the binging experience to be engaging is that Dhillon’s discography is well-integrated within the show, without coming across as a pushover. As viewers, we’ve grooved alongwith Brown Munde without the slightest idea about what did penning or composing the chartbuster mean then for the artiste and his team. A humble nod to the legend of rapper and singer Sidhu Moose Wala adds to the respectability of the series.
Back home, viewers get a glimpse into Dhillon’s personal relationships with his family. His emotional reunion following his return to his hometown is particularly moving.
What works against the cause of the series though is that most of it is commissioned by Dhillon and his team. So, the accuracy or the authenticity of what is being shown can be hard to gauge. The obligatory appearances of key music business experts don’t help significantly. The inputs are less informative and more gushing in nature.
For minute imperfections aside, Ahmed and his team ensure a largely watchable affair. AP Dhillon: First Of A Kind could possibly start off a trend of more stories and personal accounts of popular musical sensations, waiting to be told on digital.
PS: Wait till the end for an ultimate reveal. No further spoilers now.