Aruna Dhir’s Hotel Adventures with the Stars is a memoir like none other. It turns the spotlight on the unseen side of celebrities, away from the glamour and glitz of the camera lights. The author channels her experiences as a PR and communications Head with three internationally renowned hotels. She writes about her meetings with different stars in the course of her illustrious career and captures their quirks, their slice-of-life moments, and last but not least, their humane side.
My favorite chapters are the author’s encounters with Jackie Shroff, Khushwant Singh, Ruskin Bond, and Sharmila Tagore. The aura she creates around the original ‘Bhidu’ of Bollywood, Jackie Shroff, made me want to be ‘Bhidufied’ myself! Khushwant Singh’s epitaph had me chuckling and tearing up at the same time. The chapter on Bond reaffirmed for me, that he is the original Bond, a true legend, and a fabulous human! Sharmilaji’s attempts to help the author in a time of personal crisis made me respect her even more.
The author’s experiences make a career in hospitality very attractive and glamorous. Whether she is promoting a Teppanyaki grill or making a Hollywood shoot happen, you know she has the urge to think out-of-the-box and innovate. A high-profile job like this could not have been easy and to do it with such aplomb, speaks volumes about her leadership.
The author does not sugarcoat her words; in her outspoken fashion, she calls out celebrities who threw tantrums or put on airs. Such honesty in a memoir is very refreshing. What I loved the most is that through vivid recollections, she brings to life the endearing nature of some personalities. After reading this book, I can appreciate them better; for instance, if I were ever to watch a Gulshan Grover movie now, irrespective of the role he played in it, I would remark, “now, that is a gentleman!”
The narrative is lucid, and the tone is witty and observant. The book is 235 pages and 27 chapters long, and you wish there were more stories and more celebrities; such is the power of storytelling. If I had a wish list for this book, it would be photos! I want to see Sonal Mansingh’s portrait, or the photo of the author with Madhuri, or the one where she sits sandwiched between Sanju Baba and Gulshan Grover.
Imagine rubbing your shoulders with the biggest names in cinema, arts, literature, and sports, and yet remaining so grounded. I was filled with awe for the author and the many hats she dons with ease; PR consultant, a writer, a connoisseur of poetry and music, an animal activist; isn’t there anything she can’t do?
This is a book that makes you chuckle and wish you encountered a celebrity. Do pick up this delightful read!