Indian cinema icon Sridevi given a send-off with surging crowds of mourners

Vastavam web: After a lifetime under the arc- lights, Indian cinema icon Sridevi was on Wednesday given a send-off fit for celluloid posterity with surging crowds of mourners walking with the cortege as it made its slow way through the city and thousands more glued to television to watch her last rites.The 54-year-old, whose sudden death in Dubai late Saturday sent shock-waves through India, was given a state funeral with her body wrapped in the tricolour and a gun salute by the Mumbai Police.Three hundred films later, the doe-eyed actor is still remembered for her comic timing, vivacity and her quicksilver expressions.

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. There was a sea of people as far as the eye could see.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.The actor’s body was draped in a red kanjivaram sari with a bindi on her forehead.

Few could hold back their tears as the ceremonial gun shots rang out and the pyre was lit.Outside, 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. Police had a difficult time controlling the crowds.The funeral procession took about two hours to cover the seven-kilometre distance from Lokhandwala to the crematorium.

As the flower bedecked hearse covered with white flowers, the colour of mourning, left the Celebration Sports Club, minutes away from the Kapoor home in Green Acres, Lokhandwala, frenzied crowds ran alongside.There were men, women and children and even the old, desperate for a last glimpse of the actor, who had mesmerised them in films as diverse as “Moondram Pirai”, “Mr India” and “English Vinglish”.”Paid my last respects to Sridevi. The entire industry was there grieving, some on the verge of breakdown. Such was her aura & magic in films. She lay there, beautiful in a red saree, serene in death & totally at peace,” Hema Malini said on Twitter.

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 as well as nephew Harshvardhan Kapoor and nieces Sonam and Rhea, stood in a corner, their eyes wet with tears.Fashion designer Manish Malhotra broke down and was consoled by film-maker Karan Johar, who was also unable to control his grief.Rani Mukerji, a close friend, sat near the body.

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 “Chandni” star since 6 am.”We were there even at Anil Kapoor’s bungalow earlier and will not leave Mumbai without seeing our idol,” said a fan waiting in the line.

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.