It would be ridiculous to even try to survey the work of India's Lata Mangeshkar in a single disc, for this preeminent voice of Indian pop music has recorded thousands of songs in a career that stretches back into the early 1940s, when she began as a playback singer in Bollywood. Bollywood is the Bombay-based center of the Hindi-language film industry, and the number of movies it releases probably outnumbers the stars in the heavens, and its actors and actresses manage to sing a song, or two or three, in every one of them. Only it isn't them singing, but "playback singers" who provide the pre-recorded vocals, while the actors lip-synch them on screen. Playback singing is a precise and difficult art, and Lata Mangeshkar is the acknowledged master of this unique genre. Highlights from this collection include "Aayega Aanewala," her 1949 breakthrough song from the film Mahal, and a wonderful romantic ode to moonlight called "Chandni Raaten Pyar Ki Baaten," from the 1952 film Jaal. While it barely begins to scratch the surface of this beloved singer's massive canon, Rough Guide has at least provided a starting point, and the track by track liner notes will help novices navigate the confusing Bollywood waters.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett