Sridevi 2
Sridevi Image Credit: IANS

Dubai: It was early in the morning of February 25, 2018, that I read the shocking news that Sridevi, the legendary Indian actress, and one of my favourite heroines, had died of a heart attack in Dubai the previous night.

I made the first round of calls to various sources to determine where she had died and when her body would be repatriated. But I never imagined that it was to be the beginning of three days of intensive reporting — chasing sources, live updates on Facebook, feeding the Gulf News website and filing for print. All this happened at multiple locations — the police mortuary, forensic department, embalming centre and even a labour accommodation where I went to charge my laptop.

I spent hours sitting at the police mortuary, simply waiting for the forensic report after the post-mortem.

File: A twitter video screen-shot of Gulf News senior reporters Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary and Sajila Saseendran giving updates on Sri Devi’s death case being broadcast by Indian news channel NDTV. Image Credit: Twitter

The thought of India’s biggest female superstar lying motionless in a freezer just a few meters away on the other side of the door was a reminder of how death is the great leveller. Remembering how she had made fans like me laugh and dance brought tears to my eyes.

Finally, nearly 40 hours after the announcement of her death, I obtained a copy of Sridevi’s death certificate through a source.

In a voice choking with emotion, I broke the news to the world that Sridevi died due to accidental drowning, and not due to a heart attack.

Soon, my colleague got inputs from Dubai Police stating that they had found traces of alcohol in her body, indicating she had drowned after losing consciousness in the bathtub of her hotel room.

Gulf News kept readers informed of every stage of the investigation, ensuring accuracy was paramount, not sensationalism or self-promotion. As a crime reporter in Bengaluru, India, and a community-cum-civic reporter in UAE, I have broken several news stories. No story will remain etched in my memory as much as Sridevi’s death, which went viral across the world.