Noted filmmaker and cinematographer Balu Mahendra had been visiting the Drive-in from the time he landed in Chennai after his Film Institute days, in the early '70s.
"The famous Malayalam filmmaker late John Abraham and I were classmates at the Institute and we used to spend hours and hours there discussing scripts. I had spent many, many lovely mornings and evenings there."
But the most wonderful memory of his is about when he took Mrinal Sen, his teacher at Film Institute, to the Drive-in after showing him his first directorial venture Kokila at the Gemini Studio. "We sat there for nearly three and a half hours, and he went on talking about the film in a very sweet way. Every time Mrinalda came here, I used to take him there and he loved being there.
"Because of the lovely ambience, good food and the freedom to sit there for any number of hours, it used to be the favourite haunt of many film people."
The last time Balu Mahendra shot at the society garden was for Kathai Neram in 2000 when he shot many episodes there. But he used to be there by 6.30 am, two hours before the garden opened and it was the Drive-in that he used to discuss the script with his artistes.
"I used to take a stroll in the botanical gardens and then go for a cup of coffee. I cannot believe that this restaurant will no longer be there and it will not be there in future! I feel very sad. I feel my home is being taken away. It's a part of our creativity, friendship and emotions; it was a part of my life."
Image: The defaced restaurant name board
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