Allow us space to grieve, says Sridevi's family to media: 10 developments

Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor near actress Sridevi's mortal remains, wrapped in the national flag and placed in a glass casket, during her funeral procession in Mumbai on Wednesday. Photo: PTI
Bollywood icon Sridevi, whose last rites were performed on Wednesday, lived her life with "dignity", her family said in a statement, requesting the media to respect her legacy and give the family the space to grieve her untimely death.

Lakhs of people joined film stars and celebrities to bid adieu to the first female superstar of India Sridevi, who was cremated in Vile Parle crematorium with full state honours.

Sridevi's daughters Janhvi and Khushi performed the final rituals before the body was consigned to flames in the electric crematorium with husband Boney Kapoor standing by.

"The past few days have been trying times for us as a family. Today, particularly, has been one of the hardest. We laid to rest a beautiful soul who has gone too soon," read the statement by the Kapoors, Ayyappan and Marwah families.

The funeral, marking the final journey of Sridevi, who died due to drowning in the bathtub of her hotel room in Dubai on Saturday night, was one of the largest in recent times in Mumbai city.

In terms of sheer numbers, Sridevi's funeral is estimated to have attracted the highest number of mourners, ranking on par with the previous biggest funeral processions of the legendary singer Mohammed Rafi (July 1980: around a million mourners), and India's first superstar Rajesh Khanna (July 2012: a little less than a million mourners).

Sridevi's body was flown to Mumbai from Dubai where she passed away following an accidental drowning in a bathtub in her hotel room around 11 pm on February 24, and from the airport was taken to the Kapoor residence in Green Acres.

For the final journey, at the club and the crematorium, the Mumbai Police implemented elaborate security arrangements at various venues and arranged special traffic and crowd management measures.


Here are the top 10 developments since the death of the legendary actor:

1) Family requests space to grieve: Bollywood veteran Sridevi's family in a statement on Wednesday asked for space to grieve and requested media to respect her legacy.

"The past few days have been trying times for us as a family. Today, particularly, has been one of the hardest. We laid to rest a beautiful soul who has gone too soon," read the statement by the Kapoors, Ayyappan and Marwah families.

"The one thing that helped us all get through these last few days, was the amazing amount of love and support from everyone - be it her many colleagues, to her innumerable fans, her caring friends and loving family, from across the country and the world."

It said Sridevi had the same connect with her family that she shared with her audience and left behind a "legacy that is unique".

The family also said Sridevi was love "unquestionably by everyone".

"To the members of the media, we ask that you respect the privacy of the family and allow us the space to grieve. Sri lived her life with dignity and we implore, that give her the same respect," the statement read.

The outpouring of love for Sridevi, the statement said, is the memory that the family would like her two daughters -- Khushi and Janhvi -- to carry forever.

"Let us all who loved Sri, envelope her two little ones, her life, as she often called them, with as much or more love than we gave Sri so that they can live their lives ahead with a little less ache in their hearts.

"Let us help them remember their mother fondly, with that beloved twinkle in her eyes, and help them build a life and be what Sri had dreamt for them," the statement added.

2) The final journey: Wrapped in tricolour, Bollywood icon Sridevi on Wednesday afternoon began her final journey with thousands of mourners to catch a glimpse of her cortege as it slowly made its way through the city to the Vile Parle crematorium.

Photo: PTI
The body of the 54-year-old, who died in Dubai on Saturday, was taken in a hearse that was covered with white flowers, the colour of mourning.

Thousands of people walked along with the hearse as it left the venue for the crematorium, about seven kilometres away. There was a sea of people as far as the eye could see.

3) Cremated with state honours: Maharashtra government accorded full state honours for the funeral of Sridevi -- who was conferred a Padma Shri in 2013, which included draping her body in the national tricolour, elaborate arrangements by the Mumbai police and a gun salute before the cremation.


As crowds mobbed the vehicle -- with some climbing on trees and clambering on gates to get a better look -- Arjun Kapoor requested them with folded hands to let the funeral procession pass through.

4) Draped in red Kanjivaram sari: The actor's mortal remains were draped in a red Kanjivaram sari with a bindi on her forehead.

Sridevi's body was brought to the venue 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 Kapoor and Rhea Kapoor, stood in a corner, their eyes wet with tears.

Sridevi's daughters Jahnvi and Khushi were standing a little behind them, while ed-eyed Boney Kapoor stood in a corner surrounded by his family and friends from the film fraternity.

5) Mourning film fraternity: Among the early callers seen were Rekha, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Arbaaz Khan, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Akshaye Khanna, Tabu, Farah Khan, Nitin Mukesh, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vidya Balan, Sushmita Sen, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Deepika Padukone, Sanjay Leela Bhandsali, Jackie Shroff, Farhan Akhtar, Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan, John Abraham, Ajay Devgn and Kajol, Anupam Kher and Sulabha Arya, among others.

In the past four days since her demise, the Kapoor household had witnessed a steady stream of visitors including Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Krishna Raj Kapoor.
Inside the hall on Wednesday, Fashion designer Manish Malhotra broke down and was consoled by film-maker Karan Johar, who was also unable to control his grief.

Rani Mukerji sat near Sridevi's body and was consoling Sonam Kapoor, her niece.

On Tuesday, actors Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, were spotted outside Anil Kapoor's residence. South Indian superstars Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth were also among the visitors.

6) Housing Society cancels Holi celebration: Green Acres Co-operative Housing Society Limited on Wednesday cancelled Holi celebrations in the view of Sridevi's demise.

The society, where Sridevi resided, issued a notification stating that they would cancel their Holi celebration, due on March 2, as a mark of respect to the actress.

7) Indian in UAE helped Sridevi's body come home: Away from the cameras' flash and the eyes of her millions of fans in India, the actor Sridevi's body made its way to a simple mortuary in the United Arab Emirates, where one man helped sign out her remains to return home.

Listed only as "ASHRAF" on the official paperwork in Dubai is Ashraf "Sherry" Thamarassery, a 44-year-old Indian from Kerala who has become a ferryman of sorts for those who die here in the UAE.

From indebted labourers to the moneyed elite, Thamarassery has helped repatriate 4,700 bodies to 38 countries across the world. He views it as a noble responsibility in this desert sheikhdom that draws so many far from their homes, chief among them his compatriots.

"For them, you or me, it's all the same and everyone is equal. If someone dies in their room, they will take them to the hospital and then to be checked at the police mortuary," Thamarassery told The Associated Press in an interview late last night.

"It's the same process, whether Dubai or Sharjah or any emirate. ... Whether you're poor or rich, it doesn't matter."

Sherry offered shrugs when talking about Sridevi, saying he helped repatriate five other bodies yesterday including the famed Bollywood star. But it's hard to overstate the power Sridevi had over the imagination of many in India.

8) Kapoor family to stand united: The two families of Sridevi's husband and film producer Boney Kapoor will stand united at the funeral, ANI reported on Tuesday. Citing sources, the agency said that the Kapoor family wished to dispel the rumours that there was a conflict between the two families of Boney Kapoor.

His three daughters, Anshula from the first marriage and Khushi and Jahnvi from second marriage to Sridevi, were present together at Anil Kapoor's residence on Tuesday.

9) Fans allowed to pay their last respect: Sridevi's body was kept for three hours at the Celebration Sports Club, Andheri (West), from 9.30 am onwards to allow people and the Bollywood legend's fans to pay their last respect. 

The hall had three entry points - for VIPs, the media and the public.

Nearly 200 policemen were present at the venue to keep the crowd in check.

People gather in large numbers to pay their last respects to actress Sridevi during her funeral, in Mumbai on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

While the gates for the general public opened after 10 am, fans from across the country started queuing up to pay their last respects to the "Chandni" star since 6 am.

People came from as far as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to catch the last glimpse of their screen idol.

10) No foul play: On Tuesday, the Dubai prosecutor's office said that it had closed the case following the completion of its investigations. The agency put to rest all speculations regarding Sridevi's death by stating that she had died from "accidental drowning" in her bathtub after losing consciousness. "The case has been closed," the prosecutor's office said. 

Starting her career as a child actor when she was just 4, Sridevi made her debut with M A Thirumugham's Tamil flick Thunaivan and continued acting in Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada films before making her Bollywood debut.

The Chandni actress then ruled the commercial cinema space in the 1980s and '90s like no other female actress had done before.

Sridevi slowed down her career, after her marriage to Bollywood producer Boney Kapoor but returned with a bang in 2012 with English Vinglish.

Thousands of people walked along with the hearse as it left the venue for the crematorium, about seven kilometres away. There was a sea of people as far as the eye could see.


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