Manjiri Asanare-Kelkar

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Born in Sangli to a family of Maharashtra musicians, Manjiri started learning vocal music aged six, first under MT Mhaiskar and MS Kanetkar and later with Kishori Amonkar and Padma Talwalkar. She excelled academically too, turning down a place at Engineering school and eventually receiving an English Literature degree as well as a classical music scholarship at university.

She also considered pursuing a career as a kathak dancer (“music and dance at the end of the day are similar...though the language changes”), winning numerous state competitions in her youth. But in her words, “pursuing dance after marriage and children is always a big uncertainty in our society. So, I dropped dance, and stuck to music”.

Her vocal approach is passionate but methodical, as is typical for her Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, and imbued with rhythmic strength, influenced by her dance training and by growing up around her tabla-playing father and grandfather. She seeks to innovate within traditional forms, saying that “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”. Today she goes from strength to strength, exploring rare ragas alongside popular classics.

"Within a month of starting lessons [with MS Kanetkar] I was totally lost...One day, I broke down before him. He said that my learning would now begin, since I realised that I knew nothing. He was right. After that, my music sorted itself out quite fast."

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