Thousands of grieving fans gathered in Mumbai on Wednesday to pay their respects to Sridevi, the iconic Bollywood actress who drowned accidentally in a Dubai hotel bathtub over the weekend.
Sridevi’s body was flown home late Tuesday night in a private plane owned by Anil Ambani, a Mumbai industrialist and entertainment baron.
By early Wednesday morning, people had begun lining up along a security fence outside the private club near Sridevi’s home where the body had been laid out.
A string of Mercedes and Audis ferried family members, Bollywood stars and VIPs in through another gate, protected by dozens of private guards.
One mourner, a man who gave his name only as Prashant, arrived at about 7 a.m., hours before anyone was to be allowed in.
“No matter how long I have to wait, I will wait,” he said, clutching a small bouquet of flowers. “I’ll
wait until I’m able to pay my respects. I saw all her movies”.
Sridevi’s funeral takes places later on Wednesday and her body will be cremated according to Hindu religious customs.
The 54-year-old was in Dubai for her nephew’s wedding when she died Saturday. She was found unconscious in her bathtub in her suite at Dubai’s Emirates Towers hotel and rushed to hospital where she was declared dead on arrival.
Initially it was reported that Sridevi had died of a cardiac arrest in her hotel room. The Dubai government’s media office has since said that the postmortem analysis of the actress revealed that she had died due to ‘drowning in her hotel apartment’s bathtub following loss of consciousness’.
Investigators in Dubai closed their case Tuesday and handed the body to her family.
Condolences have poured in since the death of the actress, who redefined the importance of the female lead in India’s largely male-dominated film industry, including from the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sridevi began her acting career at the age of four in southern India and spent the next five decades playing mostly lead roles in films, a large number of which became box office hits.
By the late 1980s, she was a powerful figure in Hindi-language films and was able to command principal roles in a film industry in which the heroine’s role was largely relegated to a few songs and a handful of romantic scenes as the leading man’s love interest. Her last and 300th movie ‘Mom’ was released in 2017.
She married Bollywood film producer Boney Kapoor in 1996 and they had two daughters.