India bids farewell to Bollywood superstar

Fans of Bollywood actress Sridevi waiting to pay their last respects outside a makeshift memorial in the Indian city of Mumbai yesterday. The legendary actress drowned in the bathtub after losing consciousness late last Saturday in a hotel in Dubai,
Fans of Bollywood actress Sridevi waiting to pay their last respects outside a makeshift memorial in the Indian city of Mumbai yesterday. The legendary actress drowned in the bathtub after losing consciousness late last Saturday in a hotel in Dubai, where she was attending a wedding.PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI • Thousands of heartbroken fans and Bollywood actors paid their final respects to Indian superstar Sridevi Kapoor yesterday, following her shocking death from accidental drowning in a Dubai hotel bathtub aged just 54.

Huge crowds of mourners - some carrying roses, others holding photos of the late actress - lined Mumbai's streets to see their beloved idol embark on her last journey.

At one point, police had to use batons to force back those who had not been able to get into the hall where her body was laid out, wrapped in the Indian flag.

"It's a shock to believe she is no more. We want to pay her one last visit today and thank her for all her wonderful performances," said 32-year-old teacher Nandini Rao as she queued up to pay her respects.

After a public service, Ms Sridevi's funeral cortege made its way slowly to a crematorium where her family members were to say their final goodbyes. The actress' body was cremated at a private Hindu ceremony later yesterday.

Bollywood stars, including actresses Aishwarya Rai and Kajol, were among the mourners at the Celebration Sports Club in the Andheri West area of Mumbai - the home of the Hindi film industry.

Heavy security lined the streets to control the crowds, which included people who had travelled hundreds of kilometres to be there.

Sridevi was considered to be one of the most influential Bollywood actresses of all time and her sudden death at the weekend sparked an outpouring of grief in India.

Tributes poured in from fans and fellow actors as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The star of hit films such as Chandni and Mr India drowned in the bathtub after losing consciousness late last Saturday in a hotel in Dubai, where she was attending a wedding.

Police in the Gulf emirate said a post-mortem examination found that she had drowned after losing consciousness. On Tuesday, they ruled out any foul play and released the body to her family.

Sridevi made her acting debut at the age of four and her career spanned more than four decades. She worked in India's regional Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam-language films before making her Bollywood debut in 1979.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'India bids farewell to Bollywood superstar'. Print Edition | Subscribe