Mahesh boarded a bus to Chennai in 1999 with dreams of becoming a lyricist like his heroes Snehan, Muthukumar, and Pa. Vijay. With barely any money in hand, he landed in the city at 3.30 a.m. one day. “I didn’t know where to go,” he recalls. He did the rounds in Kodambakkam, much like many countless starry-eyed youngsters. Those were difficult times. To support himself, Mahesh got a job at a restaurant. “I realised I would have a place to stay and get regular meals while I tried my luck in the film industry,” he says.
He gradually got chances to write lyrics for a few movies. At the same time, he learned the tricks of the restaurant trade. He may not be a big name in Tamil cinema yet, but Mahesh says he has secured a wide network of contacts who offer him roles in movies. “But I want to establish myself as a lyricist first,” he says.
The 33-year-old believes in being realistic. “A lot of youngsters come to Chennai with no idea of how to survive. While it’s a good thing to chase dreams, it’s safe to hold a regular job during the process,” he says. His restaurant supported him during the tough days. “I know how difficult it is, which is why I’ve opened my doors for people like me,” he smiles.
There’s more. Tamil movie goers can claim a discount of 10 per cent if they bring their movie tickets. “We have families coming to eat after watching a movie even at far off theatres,” he grins. This is his effort to encourage people to watch movies in theatres.
He has a list of dishes that each of them enjoy. “Parthiban sir likes our egg masala, Ganja Karuppu enjoys the kaadai roast, Soori likes our parottas…”
His specialty, though, is the ‘vadi’ biryani that he makes using par boiled basmati rice and chicken. “The preparation is slightly different from regular biriyani; masalas are allowed to simmer in water before the rice is added and ‘dum’ is placed,” he explains. Their chicken-65 is yet another specialty.
Mahesh hopes to make a movie based on food one day. He points to a corner table at the far end. “That’s where I write.” He enjoys cooking, but it’s writing that gives him a high. He says, “Cooking is the wife who married me; writing is the lover I married.”
Kavignar’s Kitchen is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Kamarajar Salai, Ashok Nagar. It’s special for the people it hosts, more than for the food it serves. Mahesh, better known as Jayam Kondan after his home town, started the restaurant in 2009. He calls it an “Aala maram (banyan tree) that’s a refuge for those who come to Chennai looking for an opportunity in the film industry.”
News courtesy & Image courtesy – The Hindu
Reference link – http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/where-cinema-meets-food-at-kavignars-kitchen/article7685251.ece