Thousands of grieving fans are gathering in Mumbai to pay respects to Sridevi, the Bollywood superstar who drowned accidentally in a Dubai hotel bath over the weekend.
The actress’s body was flown home late on Tuesday in a private plane owned by Anil Ambani, a Mumbai industrialist and entertainment baron.
By early Wednesday morning, people had begun lining up along a security fence outside the private club near Sridevi’s home where the body had been laid out.
A string of cars ferried family members, Bollywood stars and VIPs in through another gate, with squadrons of private guards ensuring things stayed under control.
One mourner, a man who gave his name only as Prashant, arrived at about 7am, hours before anyone was to be allowed in.
“No matter how long I have to wait, I will wait,” he said, clutching a small bouquet of flowers. “I’ll wait until I’m able to pay my respects.
“I saw all her movies,” he said, grief clearly visible on his face.
Sridevi’s funeral takes place later on Wednesday. Her body will be cremated according to Hindu religious customs.
The 54-year-old was in Dubai for a wedding in her extended family when she died on Saturday. Investigators in Dubai closed their case on Tuesday and handed the body to her family.
Condolences have poured in since the death of the actress who redefined the importance of the female lead in India’s largely male-dominated film industry.
Sridevi, who used only one name on screen, began her career as a child actress and went on to star in regional films in southern India before making her Bollywood debut in the late 1970s.
By the late 1980s, she was a name to reckon with in mainstream Hindi-language films and commanded top billing and dominated screen space in a film industry in which the heroine’s role was largely relegated to a few songs and a handful of romantic scenes as the leading man’s love interest.