Heartbroken fans Monday awaited the arrival of the body of Bollywood superstar Sridevi Kapoor as tributes poured in for the actress who died in Dubai of a heart attack aged just 54.
Hundreds gathered outside her Mumbai home hoping to catch a final glimpse of the star before she is cremated at a funeral service expected later Monday.
Sridevi — one of the biggest names in Hindi cinema — died late on Saturday after suffering a cardiac arrest in Dubai, where she had been attending her nephew’s wedding.
Her body was due to be flown back to Mumbai on Monday on a charter flight after authorities in the emirate allowed it to be released following a post mortem.
“We want to see her one last time,” 48-year-old Laxmi Subbaramaiah told AFP outside Sridevi’s house in the Andheri area of Mumbai — the heartland of the Bollywood film industry.
“All of my family members are big fans and we cried when we heard the news. We will wait here until her body comes back,” he said.
Vishal More, 23, said he had travelled seven hours from Jalgaon district, around 400 kilometres away from Mumbai, to bid farewell to his favourite actress.
“I’ve been waiting all morning to catch a last glimpse of Sridevi. I have watched all of her movies. She is such an inspiration,” he said.
Sridevi’s death has prompted an outpouring of grief in India from fans and fellow actors as well as condolences from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
– Bollywood shock –
“I have always been a huge fan of her work. Equally I have been an admirer of the grace and dignity with which she conducted herself,” actor Aamir Khan wrote on Twitter.
“I join all the millions of her fans in mourning her demise. Ma’am we will always remember you with love and respect,” he added.
Fellow actor Ranveer Singh tweeted that he was “shocked and saddened to hear about the untimely demise of one of Hindi cinema’s greatest superstars”.
Actress Alia Bhatt posted on Twitter: “Nothing makes sense. I have no words.. just completely shocked. RIP Sri Devi. My icon forever. Love you.”
Sridevi, born Shree Amma Yanger Ayappan in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, appeared in around 300 films and was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, for services to the movie industry.
She made her acting debut at the age of four and her career spanned more than four decades.
Sridevi worked in India’s regional Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam-language films before making her Bollywood debut in 1979.
She became a national icon with a string of blockbuster films including “Chandni”, “Mr India”, “Mawali” (“Scoundrel”) and “Tohfa” (“Gift”).
Sridevi famously took a 15-year-break from the silver screen after marrying film producer Boney Kapoor but returned in the 2012 hit comedy-drama “English Vinglish”. Her most recent film was last year’s “Mom”.
She was set to see Jhanvi, the eldest of her two daughters, make her Bollywood debut.