After ruling the small screen, actor Yuvesri gets busy with Yuva-Bhag, her eatery that specialises in recipes from her grandma’s kitchen
I am meeting Yuvesri after almost two decades. The earlier rendezvous was for a weekly column on TV stars. She was ruling the roost in soaps then. This blend of beauty and talent ought to have made it big in cinema, I had thought. It didn’t happen and the big screen’s loss was the small’s gain. Now life seems to have another rewarding plan for Yuvesri.
Looks wise, Yuvesri is pretty much the same. She sounds more confident and cheerful than before, as we settle down for a chat in her tiny takeaway joint at Ashok Nagar. Yes, Yuvesri is now a culinary queen in her own right, with the place thronging with customers, patiently waiting for their turn in the air-conditioned cubicle!
“We are blessed to have an excellent clientele,” smiles Yuvesri. “And on days when service gets slightly delayed, they don’t mind returning for the food,” adds cousin Bhagyalakshmi. Yuva-Bhag on 18th Avenue is quite a popular non-veg corner in the area. And the two women have achieved it in just a year! May 9 marked its first anniversary.
Till recently Yuvesri was ubiquitous. She was on stage, playing the lead in Shraddha’s Doosra, and later, in UAA’s Lights On and Kadhalikka Naeramundu, at the troupe’s 50th anniversary celebrations. For Zee Tamil watchers, she’s a familiar cookery show host. She hosted Anjarai Petti, for a year and a half, even as she was playing a prominent role in the serial, Anu Pallavi. “At the moment, Yuva-Bhag takes up nearly all my time,” she says. Though recently she shot for a cookery show to be telecast in Malaysia, she’s opted out of the lights-camera-action mode for now.
Yuvesri and Bhagyalakshmi cook, clean and pack the food. They don’t want their exclusive recipes to get circulated, and it could happen if they allow a third person in. All the same preparing a variety of non-veg dishes for nearly 100 customers every day could be exhausting. “Between us it just takes an hour and a half to get things ready.” Her passion is evident as she talks about her present profession. “I should thank my grandma for it. I was a reluctant learner, but she would see to it that I knew about every dish in detail.”
They arrive at the eatery at 11 in the morning. “At the stroke of one the food counter is open,” they chorus. Peak hours are till 3 p.m. “After lunch and a snooze we are up and about for dinner time at 7.30.”
The USP of Yuva-Bhag? “Quite a few,” Yuvesri smiles. “Hygienic, like homemade food and healthy and tasty recipes from our grandma’s kitchen.” Yuva-Bhag’s mutton and chicken chops served on Sundays are specialties. As it is holiday time they plan to add it to their everyday menu. Yuvesri is also toying with the idea of serving breakfast. “Non-veg breakfast is a rarity. So we want to have a sumptuous spread for the mornings also. Is it goodbye to acting? “These days television isn’t a well-paying job. Yuva-Bhag seems a viable alternative,” she laughs.
The last time we met, I remember asking her when she would get married. “Never,” she had said. She’s still single. “I’ve been earning and supporting my family from an early age. I didn’t wish to barter my independence for marriage.”
Yuvesri is focused on making Yuva-Bhag bigger. “When people arrive in Chennai they should head for Yuva-Bhag straightway. That’s my aspiration. It will happen,” she says with confidence.