Bolan Gan a regional folk song sung on the occasion of Shiva's gajan (a festival associated with the worship of the god shiva). These songs are widely sung in Nadia, Birbhum, and Murshidabad districts in west bengal. Performers move in groups from house to house dancing, singing and acting different characters of tradition.
The bolan gan group comprises singers, dancers, and musicians and is led by an ustad (teacher). Teenaged boys play the roles of women and sing and dance. Thus it is similar to alkap gan, though alkap is performed on the stage while bolan gan is not.
Bolan gan was usually composed in the form of a narrative play based on mythological stories. However, the themes of these songs have expanded to include social and contemporary issues. Bolan gan may be both light and serious: songs based on serious issues are known as khanda giti, while light and humorous songs are known as rangpanchali.
The songs are prefaced by a bandana or hymn followed by the main song in panchali. The main theme is then presented through dialogue, argument and counter argument. The final part of the song consists of rangpanchali which is aimed at amusing the audience through jokes, dances and songs.
The performers of bolan gan are non-professional. Usually village youths form bolan gan groups when there is no work in the fields. They then get someone to compose a song for them. Musicians are hired if they are not available in the group. However, the whole arrangement is temporary. Bolan gan is gradually losing its popularity due to lack of patronage and changes in taste. [Wakil Ahmed]