Manjiri Asanare-Kelkar goes by the book when she's on stage, true to her roots and the bhav of the composition, personalising it enough to show her range. Her enriching tonal quality and the fact that she has been under the tutelage of Madhusudhan Kanetkar (whom she calls “appa”), Padma Tawalkar and the late Kishori Amonkar shows when she performs. A worthy exponent of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, Manjiri will treat the audiences to her musical riches as part of InContinuum concert series, an annual initiative of the Bararia family to popularise Hindustani music.
Manjiri isn't new to Hyderabad- she is quite excited that she would be performing in front of Malini Rajurkar (whom she calls “Malini tai”), whom she has looked up to since childhood. A guru but a performing artiste at heart, Manjiri's balance between learning and unlearning musical nuances has sustained her progress over the years. “It's important to surrender to what you're doing and understand, reinvent yourself with the grammar; there's an entire world that one could explore in a raag and its different dimensions,” she states. When in doubt, she remembers Kishori Amonkar's words to focus on sur. “She was fond of me, always ready to pass on the ocean of knowledge she had with the form and trust that I could be a torchbearer of a parampara; a responsibility that I continue to take up with my students now.”
The Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, she accepts, has undergone immense transformation in the last two decades; but she feels it's a part and parcel of any art form. “Every artiste leaves his/her own imprint with the form, that means a presentational change, but the soul remains the same.” That she trained to be a Kathak dancer is something Manjiri is very happy about; she is at peace with her decision of choosing music over dance for marriage and locational issues. “Music and dance at the end of the day are similar, are about expression, though the language changes. One is about the sur, the other is about the laya. I don't miss dance, but I'm very fond of watching dance performances regardless of the form.”
A recipient of the Raza, Bismillah Khan and Sanskriti awards, she feels humbled by the applause she continues to receive, but insists it's of use only when an artiste takes up recognition as a responsibility. She's still as nervous as a newcomer before a performance, a trait that helps nurture her confidence and yet remain balanced. “It's important to practice, be in a particular zone a few hours before a concert.” (Manjiri's concert is on at The Banquet Hall, Secunderabad Club at 9:45 am on July 16)