Bollywood music is a big part of most Bollywood movies, as nearly every film contains at least one song and dance number. While such a stipulation would be out of place in most American films where we only see singing and dancing musicals (usually), it is what Bollywood audiences expect to see. Bollywood music goes far beyond just movie soundtracks, however. Just as Hollywood is the hub of the American film and music industry, Bollywood is the center of India's music business as well.
In Bollywood Music, there are many names; singers, songwriters, and musicians who are at the "top of the pops". In America, we have Madonna or Brittney Spears (note we're talking about popularity here and not assessing anyone's tastes) and in Bollywood there is Himesh Reshammiya, Anu Malik, and Trickbaby. These are a few of the musicians whose releases burn up the Bollywood music charts. Himesh Reshammiya's 36 China Town, released April 1, 2006, is a prime example of the type music Bollywood fans eat up. Many web sites, such as Planet Bollywood devoted to Bollywood, offer fans the skinny on what's happening in the Bollywood music industry.
Bollywood Music in Motion Pictures
In the films of Bollywood, music plays a very important role. Movie soundtrack music is known as filmi music (literally: "from films") in Bollywood movies and is as much of a draw to the films as the actors, the actresses, and the babes.
The songs in a Bollywood movie are usually pre-recorded and then lip-synched by the actors and actresses. It is the voice of a professional "playback singer" that the audience hears. Unlike an American film in which a voice-over actor is quietly credited, in hopes that the audience believes it is the star doing the singing, Bollywood playback singers are featured prominently in the opening credits and draw their own fans to the showings. Some playback singers have such a strong fan following that people will go to their films just to hear them sing.
In the Bollywood industry, a song and dance production number in a movie is called an Item Number. Usually these item numbers will take place in the middle of the film and be performed by an attractive female character that is otherwise completely unrelated to the plot. This "item girl" will show up (maybe as a slave girl or a distant relative to one of the characters - some such explanation is usually given), perform the item number, and be gone again. It just wouldn't fly in America, but Bollywood audiences love it.