Dubai: A year after Sridevi’s untimely death in Dubai, UAE-based fans of India’s most famous actor still haven’t come to terms with the tragic loss.
Sridevi’s husband, producer-director Boney Kapoor found her dead in the bathtub of her hotel room in Dubai on the night of February 24, 2018.
As first reported online by Gulf News, the death report issued by the Preventive Medicine Department of the Ministry of Health cited “accidental drowning” as the cause of her death, nearly 40 hours after the family announced she had died of a cardiac arrest.
Dubai Police sources told Gulf News that they had also found traces of alcohol in her body and this may have led to the accident.
In his own account of what happened that night after he paid a surprise visit to her and decided to take her out for a romantic dinner, Kapoor reportedly told his friend Komal Nahta that he found her completely submerged and motionless inside the tub 15 minutes after she went for a bath.
“Whether she first drowned and then became unconscious, or she first fell asleep or unconscious and then drowned, nobody will, perhaps, ever know. But she probably never got a chance to even struggle for a minute because, had she moved her arms and legs in panic while drowning, there would be some water spilling out of the tub. But there wasn’t a drop of water on the floor outside the tub,” Nahta wrote in an exclusive blog on March 3, after piecing together the details from Kapoor.
Though a year has passed, fans of Sridevi say they have yet to come to terms with the void left behind by her death.
Mohan Krishnasamy Pillay
She was a very good actor and her performances were very natural. I have watched almost all her Tamil movies and many Bollywood movies. It is still shocking that she died in such a way.
A big fan of Sridevi since her entry into films, this Dubai-based businessman from Tamil Nadu, India, said he was fortunate to have seen the superstar in person thrice in India.
“Once, it was during the shoot of a Balu Mahendra film. The second time, I saw her at a function in South Indian actor Vijay Kumar’s house. The last time I saw her was some years back in Mumbai when she attended an event for a Bharathiraja movie starring Nana Patekar,” said Pillay, who has been living in Dubai for 25 years.
I am still shocked and find it unbelievable that Sridevi is no more. She was our diva, our lady superstar. We can’t believe that she had such a tragic end.
For homemaker Nisha, Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit (another Bollywood female superstar) are her all-time favourite heroines.
“I have danced to songs performed by both on screen. My friends and I performed the Navari maji song from Sridevi’s comeback film, English Vinglish, at two events here in Dubai. I used to watch her movies regularly and I also saw her last movie, Mom, in which she gave an amazing performance.”
Nisha, who is from Kerala and has been raised in Mumbai, said she was fortunate to have seen Sridevi in person during an award function in Dubai.
A person of her stature drowning in a bathtub. It was really shocking.
Manish Sharma, an IT sales professional, said he grew up watching Sridevi’s films.
“I liked her, especially in Mr India. I would watch it again and again. I was seven or eight years old then.”
Sharma said it is still difficult for him to believe that she is no more.
I think her fans are still in a state of disbelief and grieving for her.
The co-founder of Junction, in Al Serkal Avenue, Rashmi says she hopes and wishes that fans get someone like Sridevi in the years to come.
“One hopes that her daughters are able to fill that space but, to her fans, she is irreplaceable.
“Sridevi had the perfect combination of glamour, beauty, vulnerability and great acting abilities. I fell in love with her in Chandni and Lamhe where she gave such stellar performances. She gave an equally powerful performance in English Vinglish and Mom, movies that came after her hiatus from films.
She’s gone but my memories of her linger on.
The Sharjah-based Indian homemaker said Sridevi came across as affable and warm when she asked her for an autograph at Dubai Festival City Mall some years ago.
“I was out shopping with my daughters and my mother when I spotted her at an optical store. She was alone and I wasn’t sure how she’d react to being approached.
“I was still undecided, when Sridevi flashed her winsome smile. She had sensed my predicament and it made my job easy — I walked up to her and asked for an autograph and she readily obliged and also posed for photographs which I treasure to this day.
She was one of my favourite stars and I think for years to come, Hindi cinema is going to find no one to replace her. She had one of the best comic timings and delivered power-packed performances.
A theatre and film artiste, Sadia said: “I am still in shock and watching her movies still hits a raw nerve. I find it unbelievable that she is not with us anymore. I think for most of her fans, it is difficult to see her assigned to posterity.
“For Hindi cinema to lose such a gem is a colossal loss. She is believed to have been shy and quiet in person but in front of the camera, she was a powerhouse of talent. That was her magic. She is now part of the great legend of Indian heroines such as Madhubala and Meena Kumari.”
Sridevi was one of the pillars of Indian cinema. Her performance in English Vinglish was so powerful that many women across the world who did not speak English identified with her character. She will be missed for decades to come.
The biggest regret of Manju Ramanan, editor of Filmfare Middle East, is not having met Sridevi. “Recently, during a film award ceremony, I had the chance to meet her daughter, Jhanvi, who has her mother’s eyes and smile. I recall that during the shooting of Dhadak (Jhanvi’s debut film), Sridevi had visited the village where the film was shot and one of the villagers, who is a friend of my cook, shared a photograph of hers. I held on to that photograph for so long, posting it sadly on the day of her death.
— With inputs from Mazhar Farooqui, Features Editor — Special Reports