Music Manjiri Asanare-Kelkar and Manjusha Sandeep Patil impress with their preparation and execution. Kuldeep Kumar

While still in her early twenties, Manjiri Asanare had made listeners sit up and take notice of her musical talent, rigorous training and consequent virtuosity. Some even hailed her as the present-day Kesarbai Kerkar, a description that can never go uncontested. Now after two decades, Manjiri Asanare-Kelkar has firmly established herself as a worthy representative of the Jaipur-Atrauli tradition of khayal singing. Initiated into music by her tabla-player father, Anand Asanare, she was further groomed by the Gwalior gharana exponent Chintubua Mhaiskar. However, it was Madhusudan Kanetkar, a disciple of Bhoorji Khan, who sculpted her musical personality. Bhoorji Khan was the son and disciple of the legendary Ustad Alladiya Khan, inventor of the Jaipur gayaki, and had trained such stalwarts as Mallikarjun Mansur. Kanetkar is also known for composing drut bandishes in those ragas wherein only vilambit compositions had been handed down by tradition.

Manjiri Asanare-Kelkar recently performed at the Capital's Meghdoot open-air theatre at “Aviram”, a music and dance festival organised by the Raza Foundation to honour eminent artist Syed Haider Raza on the occasion of his 90th birthday. The performing conditions were not ideal for a classical music concert but this did not deter Manjiri from offering a first-rate performance in the evening raga Jaitshree, a combination of Jait and Shree. She began with a traditional vilambit composition in Roopak taal “Jabten Piya Sapne Mein Aaye” and went on to sing a drut composition in Teen taal “Bahut Din Beete Mori Aali”. Her poise, creative control and virtuosity were all very impressive and so were her beautifully-formed aakar taans in the true Jaipur style. However, one could detect a trace of repetitiveness and a slight lack of what is conventionally referred to as “taaseer”, the overall aesthetic impact not to be confused with emotive content.

After Jaitshree, Manjiri Asanare-Kelkar chose Basanti Kedar, another speciality of her gharana, in view of the onset of spring season. She sang the traditional Teentaal bandish “Atar Sugandh” and dazzled by the luminosity of her notes and intricate, fast and seemingly unending taans. As the name suggests, this raga is also a combination of Basant and Kedar. In Basanti Kedar, she came into her full bloom and chose a chhota khayal in Kedar “Chatur Sughar Balma” to conclude her recital. Vinod Lele on tabla and Vinay Mishra on harmonium accompanied her with understanding.

Manjiri Asanare-Kelkar was the first recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi's Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in Music category in 2007. One got a chance to listen to Manjusha Sandeep Patil, who was honoured with the same award this year, at Kamani Auditorium. Manjusha too received her initial taleem from Chintubua Mhaiskar and was later trained by D. V. Kane (Kane Bua) who combined the Gwalior and Agra styles. His present guru Ulhas Kashalkar too combines these two styles and has imbibed elements of a third – Jaipur-Atruali style – too.

She sang the hoary evening raga Gauri and accorded due attention and treatment to the mandra nishad. Her taiyari was truly breathtaking and so was her imagination. She successfully brought out the serious nature of the raga and her vocal flourishes were well thought-out. She switched to a thumri in Mishra Khamaj “Baari Umar Larkaiyan” and sang it with verve and lilt. However, the bol-banao left something to be desired. She too was ably accompanied by Vinod Lele on tabla and Vinay Mishra on harmonium.