By Simran P. Gupta
On Feb. 24, 2018, Bollywood superstar Sridevi was found dead in the United Arab Emirates. According to CNN, she had lost consciousness and drowned in her hotel bathtub in Dubai at the age of 54. She was in Dubai to attend a family wedding. Sridevi is survived by her husband, Boney Kapoor, and her two daughters, Jhanvi and Khushi.
Since then, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, police reported that they had closed the case and ruled out foul play (CNN). Her body has been returned to her family, who reside in the Lokhandwala neighborhood of Mumbai. A statement from the renowned film production company, Yash Raj Films, said that the final rites are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Feb. 28.
Sridevi was born in 1963 and has been hailed as one of Bollywood’s first female superstars. She began her acting career as a child actor at the age of 4 in a Tamil-Hindu film and has won two prestigious Filmfare awards during her career. The film “Tohfa,” released in 1984, would become known as her big break thanks to her dance number “Nainon Mein Sapna.” After taking several years off to focus on her daughters, she made a comeback as the protagonist in the 2012 film “English Vinglish,” becoming one of the few prominent actresses to break back into the industry after a years-long hiatus.
Sridevi is not known only as a film and fashion icon; she is also credited with changing Bollywood for the better. She did Tamil films as well as Hindi films, helping to break the prejudices towards that region of India. A journalist for The Independent called her a “feminist trailblazer” who studied languages and fought for equal pay and equal screen time to her male co-stars decades before these topics entered the mainstream conversation. Fans remember her as one of the first actresses to portray a woman as the lead role without a male co-star alongside her- a very rare thing in Indian cinema. She ensured that she was remembered for more than just her femininity, and she fought against the pigeon-holing that tends to happen to leading actresses.
“If Bollywood is the world’s biggest film industry, then Sridevi was its queen,” reads the headline of a CNN op/ed written in tribute to the trailblazing actress. Hareen Singh, a journalist from Mumbai, said “Sridevi was a star, she could be anything, she could do what men could do and do it better.”
His words sing true for Indians across the globe, who mourn the loss of a national, iconic treasure.