Sridevi dead, nation mourns

Mumbai, Feb 25 (IANS) Veteran actress Sridevi, 54, passed away in Dubai after cardiac arrest, engulfing the entire country in a pall of gloom. From Indian stars to Indian political personalities to Pakistani icons, her fans and admirers expressed shock and disbelief.

The Padma Shri recipient passed away in Dubai on Saturday night due to cardiac arrest. Sridevi was there to attend the marriage function of actress Sonam Kapoor's cousin Mohit Marwah, along with husband Boney Kapoor and younger daughter Khushi. Her other daughter Janhvi stayed back reportedly due to work commitment towards her debut film "Dhadak".

In a moving gesture, Indian industrial magnate Anil Ambani has sent an aircraft to Dubai to bring back her body to India later on Sunday. The funeral is likely to take place on Monday, although there is no word from the family on this so far.

Born in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu on August 13, 1963, Sridevi began her career at the age of four in the devotional film "Thunaivan". That marked the beginning of a journey in filmdom that saw her work across Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi productions, leading her to become one of the most formidable actresses of the 1980s and 1990s in Bollywood -- in fact, the only female "superstar" the industry has seen.

She is remembered for her performances in some of the iconic Bollywood films like "Mr. India", "Nagina", "Sadma", "ChalBaaz", "Chandni", "Khuda Gawah", among many others in different Indian languages.

Sridevi, who made a comeback to Bollywood in 2012 with "English Vinglish" after a long break of 15 years, was last seen in "Mom" in 2017.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi condoled the death of the veteran actress saying that she was an incredibly talented and versatile actress.

Union Minister of Textiles and Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, also mourned the loss.

Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay said that "like millions, he will miss her too".

From southern movie stars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, veterans like Lata Mangeshkar, Anupam Kher, Hema Malini and Madhuri Dixit-Nene and younger celebrities like Farhan Akhtar and Alia Bhatt -- the celebrities had a sense of disbelief.

"I'm shocked and very disturbed. I've lost a dear friend and the industry has lost a true legend," tweeted Rajinikanth, who featured with her in the memorable "ChaalBaaz".

Kamal Haasan, her co-star from "Sadma" -- one of her most evocative performances -- said: "Have witnessed Sridevi's life from an adolescent teenager to the magnificent lady she became. Her stardom was well deserved. Many happy moments with her flash through my mind including the last time I met her. Sadma's lullaby haunts me now. We'll miss her."

Her "Chandni" co-star Rishi Kapoor wrote: "Woken up to this tragic news. Absolute shock. Sad. Heartfelt condolences to Boney and their two daughters!"

Madhuri Dixit-Nene said, "The world has lost a very talented person who left behind a huge legacy in films".

Her "Mom" co-star Nawazuddin Siddiqui wrote: "It's a heartbreaking news, can't even imagine in the worst of my dreams - World loses the best performer."

Superstar Aamir Khan was "saddened by the untimely and tragic passing away of Srideviji". He said he has "always been an admirer of the grace and dignity with which she conducted herself".

Actress Priyanka Chopra offered her condolences to "everyone who loved Sridevi" and called it a "dark day".

While veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt was "jolted" by the news of her sudden death, Sunny Deol, who has worked with her in films like "Sultanat", "ChaalBaaz" and "Ram-Avtar", said he is "going to miss her".

Pakistani stars like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Mahira Khan, Adnan Siddiqui and Ali Zafar said that she will live in their hearts and memories forever.

With tears in their eyes, flowers in their hands, her fans had also flocked to her residence here to bid farewell to their "Chandni" while police officers tried to control the frenzy.

Filmmaker Anurag Basu also said that he met Sridevi five times only, and regrets meeting her so late in life.

"She was a great painter, full of life. The death news is unfortunate, and more unfortunate because she could not see her daughter making debut in Bollywood," Basu said.



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