Dubai/Mumbai: Bollywood actor Sridevi died of accidental drowning in her hotel bathtub after losing consciousness, the Dubai government said today, giving a dramatic twist to her sudden death that has stunned legions of fans and industry colleagues.
There could be a further delay in Sridevi’s body being brought back to India, with the Dubai police informing the Indian Embassy that another “clearance” was awaited before the body could be released.
Indian envoy to the UAE Navdeep Suri said the embassy had been informed that the Dubai police could only release the body after another “clearance”. He, however, did not say what type of a clearance was awaited.
“It is their internal process. We do not know,” he said.
The Dubai government said in a tweet the police had transferred the case to the “Dubai Public Prosecution” which will carry out regular legal procedures followed in such cases.
“Following the completion of post-mortem analysis, Dubai police headquarters today stated that the death of the Indian actress Sridevi occurred due to drowning in her hotel apartment’s bathtub following the loss of consciousness,” the Dubai government’s media office said on Twitter.
The body was likely to be embalmed tomorrow at noon (Dubai time), Dubai-based newspaper Khaleej Times reported.
The delay in the release of the body and the latest report of the accidental drowning has added new layers to the mystery surrounding Sridevi’s death at the age of 54.
It is not clear what caused the actor to lose consciousness, and whether the initial report of her death due to cardiac arrest still holds.
The news of her death, first reported at around 3 AM IST on Sunday, sent shock waves across the country with those who knew her at a loss to explain how the star, who was present at several wedding functions in Dubai last week, could suddenly breathe her last.
Her family has not commented beyond their initial statement yesterday to announce the death and has requested the media not to contact them as they grapple with the tragedy.
Sridevi is survived by her husband, filmmaker Boney Kapoor, and two daughters, Jhanvi and Khushi.
Dubai-based Gulf News said in a report the actor was under the influence of alcohol. She fell into the bathtub and drowned, it added.
However, this could not be independently confirmed.
Gulf News also attached a copy of the UAE government’s forensic report on its Twitter handle. The report, citing accidental drowning as the cause of death, has a stamp of the “Ministry of Health UAE” and the director of preventive medicine, Dubai, Dr Sami Wadie.
The report mentioned the actor’s full name, Sreedevi Boney Kapoor Ayyappan, her passport number, date of the incident (24 February 2018) and the cause of death.
“The investigation is still going on to determine the circumstances surrounding the accident as the forensic report only says that she drowned, Gulf News quoted an official as saying.
Sridevi was in Dubai for a family wedding and had stayed back after the ceremonies.
Her husband had flown back to Mumbai with their younger daughter Khushi but returned to Dubai to surprise her, according to Khaleej Times.
He was reportedly in the room when Sridevi went to the bathroom before getting ready for dinner, according to daily. It said Kapoor discovered her unconscious in the bathtub filled with water. She was taken to a hospital where she was declared dead on arrival.
Sridevi, who started acting at the age of four, ruled Bollywood in the 1980s and 1990s with her electrifying presence, expressive eyes, comic timing and dance moves.
The mystique around her, heightened by her guarded nature, continued to persist even after she took a 15-year-long break from films.
She was a fashion icon for many, who closely followed her sartorial choices on social media, a platform she was active on.
Just two days before her death, Sridevi’s Instagram pages were full of pictures from the wedding celebrations where she was seen in a green Manish Malhotra lehnga, happily posing with daughter Khushi and the newlyweds, nephew Mohit and Antara Marwah.
In a video from the wedding, which has since gone viral and is thought to be her last appearance at a party, Sridevi is seen dancing to the Bollywood song ‘Kaala Chashma‘. When Boney Kapoor joins her on the dance floor, the two hug each other.
In Mumbai today, many Bollywood celebrities visited the home of actor Anil Kapoor, Boney Kapoor’s brother. Sridevi’s two daughters are staying at the house.
Among those who visited to condole Sridevi’s death were Farah Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Tabu, Saroj Khan, Rekha, Rani Mukerji, Karan Johar, Manish Malhotra, Aumpam Kher, Shekhar Kapur, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone.
Sridevi, who acted in scores of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films before striking it big in Bollywood, made her debut appearance as a heroine in Solva Sawan in 1979. But it was Himmatwala in 1983 that catapulted her to stardom.