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Last Updated Wednesday November 20 2019 11:19 AM IST

India bids tearful adieu to Sridevi

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India bids tearful adieu to Sridevi Thousands of fans lined the streets of Mumbai on Wednesday, some weeping quietly, others running behind the hearse, as they joined Bollywood stars in paying tributes to actress Sridevi who died at the weekend in Dubai. Photo: Reuters

Mumbai: After a lifetime under the arc-lights, legendary actor Sridevi was Wednesday given a farewell fit for celluloid posterity with surging crowds of mourners walking with the cortege as it made its way through the city.

The 54-year-old actor, whose sudden death in Dubai late Saturday sent shock waves through India, was given a state funeral with her body wrapped in the tricolor and a gun salute by the Mumbai police.

Sridevi, Indian cinema's first woman superstar who straddled the parallel worlds of southern films and Bollywood, became an actor when she was only four years old.

Three hundred films later, the doe-eyed star is still remembered for her comic timing, vivacity and her quicksilver expressions.

Everyone who has seen her movies, young or old, has been in love with her, said 50-year-old Anand Raghunathan, who had come all the way from Madurai for a last glimpse of his screen idol.

Sridevi's funeral procession was the biggest Mumbai had seen for a Bollywood star since Rajesh Khanna in 2012 and perhaps the biggest for a woman, said old timers.

Sea of people

The last rites were conducted by her filmmaker husband Boney Kapoor as her family and close friends from the industry and outside packed into the Vile Parle Seva Samaj crematorium.

  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    Fans gather near a hoarding of veteran actor Sridevi to pay homage in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey
  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    Boney Kapoor with his daughter Khushi seen on the truck carrying mortal remains of Bollywood actress Sridevi during the funeral procession in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey
  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    People gather in large number to pay their respect during the funeral procession of actor Sridevi in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey
  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    Bollywood actors Jaya Bachchan, left, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan arrive to attend the condolence gathering following the demise of actress Sridevi in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey
  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    Actress Jacqueline Fernandez, left, and Sara Ali Khan arrive to attend the condolence gathering following the demise of actress Sridevi in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey
  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    Boney Kapoor with daughter Jhanvi seen on the vehicle carrying mortal remains of Bollywood actress Sridevi during the funeral procession in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey
  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    Veteran actress Sulbha Arya, left, and Bollywood actress Tabu arrive to attend the condolence gathering following the demise of actress Sridevi in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey
  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    Actress Tanisha Mukherjee, left, and mother Tanuja arrives to attend the condolence gathering following the demise of actress Sridevi in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey
  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan at the funeral of actress Sridevi at Seva Samaj Crematorium in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey
  • Sridevi's Final Journey

    Bollywood actresses Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, left, and Sushmita Sen arrive to attend the condolence gathering following the demise of actress Sridevi in Mumbai. PTI

    Sridevi's Final Journey

The couple's daughters, Jahnvi and Khushi, were by his side.

In a statement after the funeral, the family requested for privacy.

"The past few days have been trying times for us as a family. Today, particularly, has been one of the hardest. We laid to rest a beautiful soul who has gone too soon," read the statement.

It asked the media to respect the privacy of the family and to give it space to grieve. “Sri lived her life with dignity and we implore (the media) to give her the same respect," the statement read, adding that Sridevi's two daughters - Khushi and Jahnvi - will remember the outpouring of love as the final memory of their mother.

At the crematorium, few could hold back their tears as the mortal remains of the star through the ages were consigned to the flames. The actor's body was draped in a red kanjivaram sari with a bindi on her forehead. Ceremonial gun shots rang out and the pyre was lit.

“She lay there, beautiful in a red saree, serene in death & totally at peace," actor Hema Malini said on Twitter. Fans and the media were kept out of the cremation ground. There was mayhem with thousands of people, including star-gazers looking to freeze the moment on their phones, blocking the road leading to the crematorium.

Many celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan and Boney Kapoor's niece, actor Sonam Kapoor, were forced to get off their cars and walk the distance.

Mourners in the crowd, some with flowers and pictures and others with just a prayer on their lips, said they were still trying to come to terms with the suddenness of her death in a hotel room in Dubai, where she had gone to attend a family wedding. As the flower bedecked hearse covered with white flowers left the Celebration Sports Club, minutes away from the Kapoor home in Green Acres, Lokhandwala, frenzied crowds ran alongside. The funeral procession took about two hours to cover the 7-km distance from Lokhandwala to the crematorium.

There were men, women and children and even the old, desperate for a last glimpse of the actor, who had mesmerized them in films as diverse as Moondram Pirai, Mr India and English Vinglish.

Wrapped in tricolor, Sridevi begins her last journey Bollywood actors Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen arrive at a condolence meeting in Mumbai Wednesday. PTI

As crowds mobbed the vehicle -- with some climbing on trees and clambering on gates to get a better look -- her stepson Arjun Kapoor requested them with folded hands to let the funeral procession pass through.

Stars at Celebration Club

Sridevi's body was taken to the Celebration Club at 9 am by her family members. Inside the hall, her family, including brothers-in-law Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor, stood in a corner. Jahnvi and Khushi were standing a little behind them.

A red-eyed Boney Kapoor was in a corner, surrounded by family and friends.

Fashion designer Manish Malhotra broke down and was consoled by filmmaker Karan Johar, who was also unable to control his grief.

Rani Mukerji, a close friend, sat near the body.

A prayer was performed before the actor's body was taken for the last rites. While the gates for the general public opened after 10 am, fans from across the country had started queuing up to pay their last respects to the star since 6 am.

The body of Sridevi was flown back to Mumbai Tuesday night after the Dubai authorities determined that she had accidentally drowned in her hotel bathtub.

Sridevi's death initially led to a frenzy of speculation and questions about what could have triggered the death of an apparently healthy woman.

Read more: Latest India news

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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