Mumbai, Feb 28 (IANS) Lakhs of people joined film stars and celebrities to bid adieu on Wednesday to the first lady superstar of India Sridevi, who was cremated here with state honours amidst outpouring of grief by her fans.
Sridevi’s daughters Janhvi and Khushi performed the final rituals before the body was consigned to flames in the electric crematorium in Vile Parle with husband Boney Kapoor standing by.
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.
It started near her residence before reaching the crematorium after a three-hour long journey in a tall, open truck, fully decorated with white flowers — her favourite colour — with the body being draped in the national tricolour and carried in a glass casket, as cries of ‘Sridevi Amar Rahe’ by her fans rent the air.
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.
Inside the truck was Sridevi lying serene with full make-up, a large south Indian style vermillion and wearing a ceremonial gold and maroon coloured Kanjeevaram sari. A heavy, large necklace adorned her since she died a ‘suhaagan’ (one whose husband is still alive), giving the appearance of a resplendent ‘devi’ (Goddess) in deep slumber.
Her grieving family members including husband Boney Kapoor, her step-son Arjun Kapoor and brothers-in-law Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor were among those who travelled in the truck with the body.
The truck slowly negotiated the approximately six km passing through some of the poshest areas of Andheri and Vile Parle suburbs, with a massive portrait of Sridevi visible from a distance.
Several lakhs of people including students, office-goers and others accompanied or waited on both side of the roads, looked on from buildings and bungalow terraces. Many climbed on signals and lamp posts for a last glimpse of their beloved heroine.
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).
The other big funerals of non-political personalities in Mumbai included those of Raj Kapoor (June 1988) and Vinod Khanna (April 2017).
The procession was led by several family members, close relatives, friends and even neighbours of the Green Acres society where the family lived in Lokhandwala Complex.
Among the prominent personalities who attended the funeral in Vile Parle were Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Randhir Kapoor and others who came to bid a final goodbye to Sridev
Earlier, since dawn, thousands of teary-eyed fans and admirers of the late actress, many carrying flowers, had queued up outside the Celebration Sports Club at Lokhandwala Complex for a final ‘darshan’ of their idol.
After the flower-bedecked body was brought to the club premises a steady stream of celebrities came in their vehicles and where whisked inside to pay their last respects.
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.
Most of the visitors on Wednesday were sporting dark sunglasses to ward off the harsh early-summer glare, carrying flowers or small bouquets, embraced and consoled the bereaved family members, entering from the main entrance and leaving quickly from the other side as fans tried to catch a glimpse.
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.
Meanwhile, Green Acres housing society on Wednesday cancelled Holi celebrations as a mark of respect for Sridevi.
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.