While exploring the amorphous amalgam that is 'world music,â?� people often overlook elements in the music that belong as much to a specific time as to a specific place. That's not the case with Bombay Connection, a new CD series of Indian film music compiled by Dutch crate-digger Edo Bouman. The first two discs are devoted to the sounds of two related, but divergent, cinematic eras. Funk From Bollywood Action Thrillers is a showcase for the sensibilities of prolific composer duos like the brothers Kalyanji and Anandji Shah. Kalyanji-Anandji scores have been featured on previous Bollywood groove compilations such as Bombay the Hard Way, but the snazzy booklets that accompany Bollywood Connection give you a greater insight into the influence of Western action hits like Dirty Harry on their Indian counterparts.
This is pure brownsploitation, with jive turkeys and renegade cops playing off each other in a sort of Sweet Sweetback's Badass Bhangra. Moody and Moog-y, the tabla-driven 'Na Na Na Yeh Kya Karne Lage Ho (No No No, What Are You Trying to Do?)â?� was used on-screen in Bombay 405 Miles to distract a gang of crooks searching for the singing vixen Zeenat Aman. As in today's Bollywood movies, English quips such as 'Come back, please don't leave me!â?� are occasionally interspersed with the music, giving it that subcontinental spice. Bouman and his Indian partner Anand Tharaney have included not only the soundtracks but also Technicolor screen shots, fantastic matte background paintings, and lyrics with transliteration from the Hindi alongside the English translation.
The second volume, Bombshell Baby of Bombay, is more go-go than go-get-'em, with bubbly titles such as 'Pretty Pretty Priyaâ?� backing dancers clad in capri pants and mop tops instead of bell-bottoms and mutton chops. This earlier strain of Bollywood echoed the likes of Beach Blanket Bingo, so while the music is often smoky and sexy, it's not as intense as that on Action Thrillers. In '1956, 1957, 1958,â?� from the 1959 movie Anari ('The Naive Oneâ?�), we get a contribution from Lata Mangeshkar, the legendary chanteuse said to have performed on over 40,000 film scores. Despite the monochromatic tones of the accompanying screen shots, Mangeshkar sings of the bright year to come: 'Said the sari to the blouse, whispering low, 'Let's run a riot of color!' This is the year of fashion, 1959!â?� These tracks cover instrumental themes and love songs, upbeat swingers and wah-wah dirges, a mixture of yogic rhythmic breathing and high-hat shuffles, funk guitars and sitars.