Sridevi: thousands mourn at funeral of actor who redefined role of female Bollywood stars
Thousands of mourning fans have lined the streets of Mumbai to pay their respects to Sridevi Kapoor, the celebrated Bollywood actor who drowned in a hotel bathtub in Dubai over the weekend.
Her body was flown home on Tuesday night in a private plane owned by Anil Ambani, a Mumbai industrialist and entertainment baron.
Early on Wednesday morning, fans had begun lining up along a security fence outside a private club near Sridevi’s home where her body had been laid out.
A string of luxury cars ferried family members, Bollywood stars and VIPs in through another gate, with squadrons of private guards keeping back crowds.
One mourner, a man who gave his name only as Prashant, arrived at 7am, 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,” he said, grief visible on his face.
Inside the club, the actor’s body was placed on a raised platform in a hall decorated with flowers. Her extended family, including her husband, the producer Boney Kapoor, and her two daughters, stood by the platform as fans and colleagues walked past in respect.
The family had requested that all media leave their cameras outside while viewing her body, but photographs emerged on news sites showing Sridevi’s body dressed in a vibrant magenta and gold sari with a heavy gold necklace and a large red bindi marking.
By late afternoon, her body, wrapped in an Indian flag, began its journey from the club to the crematorium, where her funeral took place according to Hindu customs. The body was carried in a truck decorated with flowers and a giant poster of the actor.
Sridevi, 54, was in Dubai for a wedding of an extended family member when she died on Saturday. Investigators in Dubai closed their case on Tuesday and handed the body to her family.
Condolences have poured in since the death of the actor, who redefined the importance of the female lead in India’s largely male-dominated film industry. Sridevi, who used only one name onscreen, began her film career as a child actor and went on to star in regional films in southern India before making her Bollywood debut in the late 1970s.
By the late 1980s, she was a name to reckon with in mainstream Hindi-language films and was able to command top billing and dominate screen space 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.
Despite a life spent entirely in the movie business, colleagues described Sridevi as quiet and shy until she faced the camera, when several of them recalled how she would “transform” into the character she was playing.
In 1997, she married Kapoor, a producer on many of her films, and stepped away from cinema for many years while she raised her two daughters. Her Twitter biography read: Actor-MOM-Housewife-Actor Again!
Over the last few years, Sridevi had been preparing her eldest daughter, Janhvi Kapoor, for her debut Bollywood film slated for release later this year.
Sridevi returned to films in 2012 with English Vinglish, in which she played a quiet housewife who remains largely in the background until she decides to learn English to fit in with her family.
In 2017, she starred in Mom,playing a woman out to seek vengeance for the rape of her teenage stepdaughter.
Since you’re here …
… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.
I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.Thomasine F-R.