190223 Sridevi's body taken to airport
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Dubai: The untimely death of India’s actor-superstar Sridevi in Dubai on the night of February 24, 2018, will continue to haunt millions of her fans for years to come.

Having seen many of her films and admired her comic timing, grace and histrionics, it seemed surreal to find myself a part of the media team that broke the news of her death to an unsuspecting world.

190223 Sridevi's body taken to airport
Sridevi's body being taken to airport from the embalming unit. Image Credit: Atiq-ur-Rehman/Gulf News archives

In the three days that followed, hunger, thirst and tiredness vanished, as my colleagues and I worked at a frenetic pace, fuelled purely by adrenaline, filing reports, going live on Facebook, shooting videos and breaking news.

The initial task of building the story piece by piece — from the time of her arrival in UAE to her presence at her nephew’s wedding, looking resplendent as always, and sifting fact from rumours about the cause of her death — soon acquired a different dimension as the conjectures grew and the crowds swelled around the mortuary where we were stationed.

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

In the crush of camera teams, reporters and fans thronging the place, one thought however brought a deep sense of sadness — the fact that this superstar who ruled over the hearts of millions was now lying lifeless in the morgue.

The morning sun that filtered through the trees outside the mortuary did nothing to warm my senses as I tried to piece together the facts of the circumstances keeping in mind the imperatives of accurate reporting.

In an attempt to keep back the surging crowds, the police had drawn a security cordon and that meant we had no place to stand at the grounds.

So we had to rely on our wits to keep a steady pulse in that fluid scenario and continue reporting on the unfolding story.

Eventually, the embalmed body of Sridevi was driven out of the premises and towards the airport, to a waiting aircraft to take her to Mumbai, and that brought the curtains down on one of the most tragic celebrity deaths.