Thousands of grieving fans gathered in Mumbai on Wednesday to pay respects to Sridevi, the iconic Bollywood actress who drowned accidentally in a Dubai hotel bathtub over the weekend.
Sridevi’s body was flown back to Mdrumbai late Tuesday night in a private plane owned by Anil Ambani, an industrialist based in the west Indian city.
By early Wednesday morning, people had begun lining up along a security fence outside the private club near Sridevi’s home where the body had been laid out. A string of Mercedes and Audis ferried family members, Bollywood stars and VIPs in through another gate.
One mourner, a man who gave his name only as Prashant, arrived at about 7 a.m., hours before anyone was to be allowed in.
“No matter how long I have to wait, I will wait,” he said, clutching a small bouquet of flowers. “I’ll wait until I’m able to pay my respects.”
“I saw all her movies,” he said, grief clearly visible on his face.
Sridevi’s funeral takes place later Wednesday. Her body will be cremated according to Hindu religious customs.
Sridevi, 54, was in Dubai for a wedding in her extended family when she died Saturday. Investigators in Dubai closed their case Tuesday and handed the body to her family.
Condolences have poured in since the death of the actress who redefined the importance of the female lead in India’s largely male-dominated film industry.
Sridevi, who used only one name onscreen, began her film career as a child actress and went on to star in regional films in southern India before making her Bollywood debut in the late 1970s.
By the late 1980s, she was a name to reckon with in mainstream Hindi-language films and was able to command top billing and dominate screen space in a film industry in which the heroine’s role was largely relegated to a few songs and a handful of romantic scenes as the leading man’s love interest.