On Feb. 25, India woke up to find that Bollywood actress Sridevi is no more, and the news sent the film fraternity and fans in shock. The actress was found in the bathtub of their hotel room in Dubai by her film producer husband Boney Kapoor on the night of Feb. 24.
The 54-year-old actress died as a result of “accidental drowning,” Gulf News reported, citing the forensic report. Traces of alcohol were found in her body, the report added. “The investigation is still going on to determine the circumstances surrounding the accident as the forensic report only says that she drowned,” an official was quoted as saying by the publication.
Sridevi’s remains are expected to be flown to Mumbai on Feb. 26 afternoon.
Earlier reports had said that the actress died following a cardiac arrest and was brought dead to the hospital.
Indian celebrities, including Bollywood actors and directors to politicians and sportspersons expressed their shock and sadness at her passing. The news of her death was covered extensively by international outlets as well, with obituaries dedicated to India’s “first female superstar.”
The Independent featured a blog by Indian-origin writer Ashanti Omkar, who spoke of how Sridevi’s death was “about so much more than Bollywood.” The writer said that while her name may “evoke images of Bollywood cliches and dancing around trees,” the actress was an icon for Southeast Asians across the world for being “a true trailblazer who fought to change perceptions of women in cinema, and still won over the hearts of a patriarchal nation.”
She added: “She pushed for screen time on par with her male co-leads, as well as equal pay – long before these were widely discussed topics. She was one of the only women in Bollywood who could lead a film without a male co-star – something incredibly rare in Indian cinema.”
The thought was echoed by Indo-Carribbean writer Dr Vishnu Bisram on the ICDN Today website, who said that the expressive actress was an icon for Indo-Caribbeans and that “many Indo-Guyanese daughters were named after the actress.”
Brown Girls Magazine, a publication for South Asian women, also said that “Sridevi’s presence was a game changer.” It added: “Not only did the success of 1986’s Nagina, a snake fantasy film, lay solely on Sridevi’s shoulders, but even today, when the 1987 Anil Kapoor-Sridevi superhit Mr India is mentioned, it is Sridevi’s portrayal as the witty crime reporter that outshines Kapoor as the desi invisible man.”
The Entertainment Weekly detailed her illustrious career that spanned four decades from her first feature film at the age of 4 (a Tamil film called Thunaivan) to her 300th film, Mom, last year.
Tributes poured in for the star from national and international personalities:
You were the most exciting actress I ever worked with. Your energy on camera was scintillating. There was not a moment on screen that you did not have the audience in your grip. Be it an emotion, a comic moment, a dance. You were so innovative. You always did far far more than I asked of you . You were never less than surprising. As a human being you were incredibly supportive of those you were close to. I remember when everyone was going at me for a film that was threatening to fall apart .. you fought for me like a tigress. You were so loyal to your Directors. It’s unbelievable that you passed. Unexpected, sudden and shocking. It shook us all. We were waiting for Mr India 2 ! Honestly .. that film should have been made by now .. It’s devastating for Boney, your daughters and your family .. I know up there you will still be looking forward to your daughters debut .. but we will never get over your presence on this Earth, Sri Devi ! #sridevi #mrindia #film
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Saddened by the untimely demise of noted actor Sridevi. She was a veteran of the film industry, whose long career included diverse roles and memorable performances. My thoughts are with her family and admirers in this hour of grief. May her soul rest in peace: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 25, 2018
I have no words. Condolences to everyone who loved #Sridevi . A dark day . RIP
— PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) February 24, 2018
Lion actress Priyanka Bose paid a tribute as well:
#sridevi passing away is shocking and heartbreaking. She broke all conventions with her skill and still brought so much grace in all she did. At a time when non of this would’ve been possible. She will rest in power!
— priyanka bose (@priyankabose20) February 24, 2018
Sachin Tendulkar was quoted by reporters at an event saying: “To hear that Sridevi is no longer with us, it’s hard to digest. My condolences to her family members and everyone who’s followed her career, and loved her, loved her for everything that she was and she did for us.”
Born Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan in Tamil Nadu, Sridevi started her acting career at the age of four, by appearing in several Tamil-language films in the 1960s and 1970s. Her wide range of work includes films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi.
She was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honor in India, in 2013.
She began a relationship and went on to marry an already married film producer Boney Kapoor. The couple had two daughters named Jhanvi and Khushi.