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Sridevi’s Funeral: Iconic Actress Given State Honours; Fans, Celebrities Pay Their Last Respects

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Sridevi’s mortal remains arrived in Mumbai on Tuesday night 72 hours after her death was reported in Dubai. Amid tight security, her body was taken to her Lokhandwala residence. According to a statement on behalf of Sridevi’s husband Boney Kapoor, their daughters Khushi and Janhvi, and the entire Kapoor and Ayyappan (Sridevi’s side) families, the body will be kept for three hours at the Celebration Sports Club, Andheri (West) from 9.30 AM onwards to enable people to pay their last respects. Cremation is at around 3.30 PM.

On February 24, around 11 PM UAE time, the actor died in a hotel room in Dubai. The original reports out of the UAE attributed the death to cardiac arrest, and from initial reports, it was unclear who was with the 54-year-old actor at the time of her death.

As is routine in such cases in the UAE – where the death has occurred outside of a hospital, an autopsy was performed on Sunday. The procedure was completed late Sunday evening. However, some forensic results – including presumably toxicology assays – needed 24 hours to be completed, and so the body was not released to the family as expected on Sunday evening.

Media outlets in India had primed the public for a funeral late Sunday, and the delay in the release of the body caused consternation among the fans of the star. Meanwhile, a UAE based daily, The Khaleej Times, reported that the actor had been found dead in a bathtub.

Sridevi, accompanied by her husband Boney Kapoor and younger daughter Khushi Kapoor, had been in Dubai for a family wedding on February 20. Her daughter and husband had returned to Mumbai, but she stayed back. The Khaleej Times reported that Boney Kapoor returned from India to Dubai to surprise his wife, and went up to her room at around 5:30 PM.

Sridevi went into the bathroom, and when she did not come back on time, a worried Boney Kapoor entered the bathroom with the hotel staff, where he found his wife unconscious. Reports diverged at this point, with some saying she was already dead and other stating that she had a pulse. Sridevi was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Some reports even say that her husband was not in the hotel room with her, but was calling her constantly. When she failed to answer the phone, he alerted the hotel staff.

On Monday around mid-day, the Dubai Police released an official statement via Twitter that stating the cause of death as accidental drowning. At that time, another UAE based daily, The Gulf News, reported that traces of alcohol were found in Sridevi’s blood, and speculated that the actor might have fallen into the bathtub in a state of inebriation, fainted and died due to drowning.

The Khaleej Times followed suit and independently reported that the actor was inebriated when she died. Late Monday night, the Dubai Police told the same paper that they will conduct further investigations into the circumstances that led to her drowning.

While her body remained at the mortuary of the General Department of Forensic Evidence, Dubai, speculation in the Indian media continued to abound. The UAE-based outlets have insisted that the process being followed is routine and mandated by the UAE law and that there is no evidence of foul play at this point, but that has not stopped television and print outlets from theorising on the cause of death. Theories floated around on social media speculating that Sridevi’s alleged plastic surgeries and her efforts to look young were the cause of her death.

Posts like these on social media fueled conversation on the cause of Sridevi’s death. Soon after it was reported that the actor might have been in an inebriated state, several media channels started focusing on Sridevi’s drinking habits. Uttar Pradesh politician Amar Singh even deemed it necessary to give a blase explanation like this:

That’s not all. News coverage reached a new low with Indian television channels trying to one-up each other in their fight to grab maximum eyeballs. While one channel ran a headline stating ‘Maut ka Bathtub’ (Death in a bathtub), other channels wildly speculated her last new minutes in the washroom. One television anchor even jumped in a bathtub to recreate the events that led to Sridevi’s death.

Sridevi’s case was handed over to the Dubai Public Prosecutor and the police recorded Boney Kapoor’s statement. After the Dubai Police handed over the Indian Consulate and Boney Kapoor the letters for the release of the mortal remains of Sridevi, her body was sent for embalming.

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