Tributes poured in from the world of Bollywood as the sudden death of Sridevi, one of India’s most celebrated actresses, left her loved ones “shocked”.
The news was described as “unbelievable” and “tragic” after the 54-year-old veteran actress died on Saturday from cardiac arrest while attending a family wedding in Dubai.
Actor Kamal Haasan, her first ever co-star, who described Sridevi as a hardworking and talented actress, recalled his last meeting with her in an interview with Al Jazeera.
“Just one month before I met her. We both are not great at showing emotions but somehow we both hugged each other,” Haasan said.
“Sridevi’s talent was not luck, it was well deserved. She worked very hard since her childhood. She learnt every day. I was astounded by her growth as an actor. She worked very hard for it.”
Sridevi’s last dance with husband Boney Kapoor at Dubai pic.twitter.com/RhtVrhV02B
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Sridevi, Kamal Haasan and actor Rajnikaant produced some of Tamil cinema’s greatest hits in the 1970s that include Gaayathri, Priya and Kaavikuyil.
Having known her for 40 years, Rajnikaant told Al Jazeera it was “a great loss to Indian cinema”.
“I am shocked. I have lost a friend. She was very innocent off camera but in front of the camera she was the best professional. She is a born actress. She is one of the few close friends I had in the flim industry,” he said.
A noticeably leaner Sridevi made a successful return to the big screen 15 years later in Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish (2012) after she took a break from films soon after she married producer Boney Kapoor in 1996. In the film she played a role of a housewife taking English-language lessons.
Her last screen appearance was in Mom (2017) as a mother avenging her daughter’s rape.
— ScoopWhoop (@ScoopWhoop) February 25, 2018
Sridevi was nominated for 10 Filmfare Awards and won five. The government of India awarded her Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour, in 2013.
“Sridevi didn’t act for 15 years and when she returned with ‘English Vinglish’ many felt she looked just as wonderful as she had in her youth,” Rachel Dwyer, a professor in Indian cinema at SOAS, University of London, told Al Jazeera.
“Even as a young star she certainly held her own against major stars including Rajnikant and Kamal Haasan, and later was well matched with Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor. Her roles across films also marked her as at least an equal of any of the top stars of her day.”
Indian industrialist, Anil Ambani, sent an aircraft to Dubai to bring back Sridevi’s body to India later on Sunday, local media reported, adding the funeral will likely take place on Monday.
With reporting by Zeenat Saberin. Follow her on Twitter: