Bollywood superstar Sridevi, one of the Indian film industry’s most popular actresses, drowned after passing out in her hotel bathtub in Dubai, police said Monday.
The actress, who died on Saturday at the age of 54, was attending a family wedding in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“Following the completion of post-mortem analysis, #DubaiPolice today stated that the death of Indian actress #Sridevi occurred due to drowning in her hotel apartment’s bathtub following loss of consciousness,” Dubai police tweeted.
Police added that the case had been transferred to Dubai’s public prosecution office.
Bollywood greats and Indian political elites flooded social media with tributes to the actress whose work spanned five decades and included some of the country’s most beloved films.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the many who expressed shock at Sridevi’s death, with a tweet early Sunday extending his condolences to her family.
‘One of India’s first female superstars’
Born Aug. 13, 1963, Sridevi made her film debut as a child actor at the age of four in “Thunaivan,” a Tamil Hindu drama directed by M.A. Thirumugham.
Her first leading Bollywood role came in the 1979 Hindi film “Solva Sawan.” Four years later, Sridevi broke through to the list of Bollywood’s most highly sought-after actresses with the action comedy “Himmatwala.”
Sridevi’s credits include some of the most watched films of the ’80s and ’90s, including “Mawaali” (1983), “Tohfa” (1984), “Nagina” (1986), “Mr. India” (1987), “Chandni” (1989), “Lamhe” (1991) and “Gumrah” (1993).
“I think she really was one of India’s first female superstars,” Bollywood critic Rajeev Masand told CNN. “It didn’t matter who the male actors where, the movies were shouldered by Sridevi.”
Sridevi took a break from the limelight to raise two children with her husband, producer Boney Kapoor, before returning to star in the 1997 film “Judaai.” In the film, she plays an ambitious housewife who inadvertently marries a man who can’t afford the lavish life she aspires to lead.
“Judaai” was a box office hit, but it was Sridevi’s performance in Gauri Shinde’s 2012 hit, “English Vinglish,” that solidified her comeback and confirmed her as one of Bollywood’s most treasured and enduring talents.
Sridevi took the starring role of Shashi, an Indian housewife who only speaks Hindi but is thrust onto the streets of New York to help arrange her niece’s wedding. After a series of humiliations, Shashi decides she needs to learn English and enrolls in a four-week crash course.
“The way the character has been crafted by Shinde, and interpreted by Sridevi, is gloriously feminine, and uniquely Indian,” a review in the Hollywood Reporter said at the time.
Sridevi is credited with inspiring a new generation of Indian actresses by portraying strength with beauty and grace with comedic charm.
“Sridevi is one of the last great heroines of Hindi cinema who could hold her own against any hero,” said Rachel Dwyer, Professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at the SOAS University of London.
“A great beauty, a talented actress, a brilliant dancer, a delightful comedienne, she is a true legend.”
Sridevi’s credits span Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada language films. She had broad appeal and was lauded for her captivating screen presence and versatility, even though she was quiet and reserved off-screen.
Stars pay tribute to Sridevi
Some of the country’s most prominent stars took to Twitter to express shock at her death.
Singer Adnan Sami tweeted that he was lost for words at the loss of “India’s sweetheart.”
Actress Kareena Kapoor called Sridevi’s passing “heartbreaking.”
India’s President Ram Nath Kovind and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi offered their condolences.
Sridevi’s impact was felt far beyond India, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan also paying tribute to the actress, whom he met last December.
Sridevi is survived by her husband, Boney, and daughters Jhanvi and Khushi Kapoor.