As the Indian film phenomenon sweeps mainstream Britain, The Rough Guide To Bollywood
is the essential introduction to the colourful, vibrant and dramatic soundtracks of the Indian film industry--a multi-million dollar operation that is more prolific than Hollywood. Compiled by DJ Ritu, broadcaster and DJ for London club nights Kuch Kuch and Club Kali with assistance from BBC Asian Network's Bhagwant Sagoo, this is a collection of the biggest and best Bollywood has to offer.
With Andrew Lloyd Webber getting in on the act, and Bollywood films making it into Leicester Square, India's film music has finally moved centre stage. But as DJ Ritu points out in her liner-notes to The Rough Guide to Bollywood
, it's been a long haul to get it there. "My English India is no longer a secret," she confides with relief.
The tracks she and her colleague Bhagwant Sagoo have compiled offer a comprehensive survey of Bollywood's music from the 1960s up till today: what's striking is how frequently the same few voices crop up behind the multitudinous faces to be seen on screen. The voice of Kishore Kumar--India's answer to Al Bowlly--recalls a bygone musical age of graceful elegance. Asha Bhosle shows how a voice can change, chameleon-like, to suit the needs of the moment: in one track she radiates raunchy sleaze, in another dreamy seduction, yet the shaping of the phrases remains recognisably her own. Meanwhile her sister Lata Mangeshkar is to be heard duetting with a variety of male singers.
On some of these tracks the boxy acoustics betray the venerable age of the recordings, while on others you can feel the atmosphere of the club all around you. That's where these tracks have been tried and tested, and that's where they will now be most appreciated. For a different take on these same singers, check out Manteca's I Love Bollywood. Sugar-coated escapism rules OK! --Michael Church