MUMBAI: AMIDST the moist eyes of thousands of her fans, industry colleagues and family members, the Indian Cinema icon Sridevi was cremated with full state honours here on Wednesday. Sridevi, who died aged 54 last Saturday, was cremated at the Seva Samaj Crematorium and Hindu Cemetery at Vile Parle near the Pawan Hans helibase.
Sridevi’s filmmaker husband, Boney Kapoor, with their two daughters – Jahnvi and Khushi by his side – lit the funeral pyre even as Mumbai Police fired empty rounds in the air and slogans like ‘Sridevi Amar Rahe’ spread in the air.
Thousands of Sridevi’s fans had started lining up along the security fence outside the Celebration Sports Club near Sridevi’s home at Green Acres Lokhandwala in the western suburb of Andheri. Her body, that was flown in from Dubai last night was brought to the club at around 9 in the morning 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.
Sridevi’s body – inside a transparent casket - was draped in a red kanjivaram sari with a bindi on her forehead. Her contemporary actress Madhuri Dikshit was amongst the firsts who visited the place to pay respects to the departed soul. Sushmita Sen, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Aishwarya Roy-Bachchan, Kajol and Ajay Devgan, Jayaprada and many more Bollywood celebrities made a beeline to the club as a string of luxury cars ferried family members, Bollywood stars and VIPs.
The common public was allowed to take a last glimpse of their beloved actor through another gate of the club. With flowers in their hands and a prayer for their screen idol on their lips, thousands of fans filed past the body at the hall to pay their last respects. By noon the crowd swelled so much so that the funeral procession had to be deferred by a couple of hours.
A prayer was performed at the hall before taking the actor’s body for the last rites. The white hearse had a giant photograph of the much loved actor edged with white flowers. As per the wishes of Sridevi, the hearse was covered in white flowers. Strings of White lilies, Jasmine, Cestrum, and Ketaki had covered the vehicle as well as the hall where her body was kept.
It took almost one-and-a-half-hours to cover a distance of nearly five kms. The funeral in terms of the people in attendance – was compared to the ones of Raj Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi.
Lakhs of people including students, office-goers and others accompanied or waited on both side of the roads, looked from building and bungalows’ terraces, climbed on signals, lampposts, trees and compound walls for a last glimpse of their beloved heroine – who in 50 years of cinema had been part of more than 300 films including some of the superhits.
There was also chaotic situation several times and police had to resort to mild caning to quell the mob. Besides, lot of people climbed on to the sky-walk off Vile Parle suburban stations – and as the crowd swelled, it compounded into a problem.
Among those who were part of Sridevi’s last journey were Shah Rukh Khan, Randhir Kapoor, Rekha, Arbaaz Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Tabu, Farah Khan, Nitin Mukesh, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vidya Balan, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Vidya Balan, Madhur Bhandarkar, Deepika Padukone, Sanjay Leela Bhandsali, Jackie Shroff, Farhan Akhtar, Hema Malini, John Abraham, Anupam Kher and Prasoon Joshi.