With flowers in their hands and a prayer for their screen idol on their lips, thousands of fans today joined Sridevi’s family and friends to pay their last respects at a hall where her body was placed ahead of the funeral.
The body of the late actor, who died in Dubai on Saturday, was kept at the Celebration Sports Club, minutes away from her residence Green Acres in Lokhandwala.
A prayer was performed at the hall before taking the actor’s body for the last rites.
A giant photograph of the much loved actor edged with white flowers was put up outside the club, which was covered with white lilies, mogra and red roses.
Sridevi’s body was brought to the venue at 9 am by her family members..
Inside the hall, her family, including film-maker husband Boney Kapoor, actors Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor and Rhea Kapoor, stood in a corner, their eyes wet with tears.
Sridevi’s daughters Jahnvi and Khushi were standing a little behind them.
The actor’s mortal remains were draped in a red kanjivaram sari with a bindi on her forehead.
The well-wishers offered flowers kept in baskets.
A sombre, red-eyed Boney Kapoor stood in a corner surrounded by his family and friends from the film fraternity.
Fashion designer Manish Malhotra broke down and was consoled by film-maker Karan Johar, who was also unable to control his grief.
Rani Mukerji sat near the body, and was consoling Sonam Kapoor, her niece.
The hall had three entry points – for VIPs, the media and the public.
Nearly 200 policemen were present at the venue to keep the crowd in check.
While the gates for the general public opened after 10 am, fans from across the country started queuing up to pay their last respects to the “Chandni” star since 6 in the morning.
People came from as far as Karnataka and Chennai to catch the last glimpse of their screen idol.
Among the crowd was a group of fans from Karnataka waiting to pay their respects to the actor.
“We were there even at Anil Kapoor’s bungalow earlier and will not leave Mumbai without seeing our idol,” said a fan waiting in the line.
The private security guards, who were inside the hall in large numbers, made sure that fans did not click any pictures of the late actor while offering their condolences.
Celebrities who paid their last respects to the actor included Jaya Bachchan, her daughter Shweta Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sonam Kapoor’s friend Anand Ahuja, Madhuri Dixit Nene and her husband Sriram Nene.
Noted actors Jaya Prada and Hema Malini, Arbaaz Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Manish Paul, Tabu, Subhash Ghai, Neelima Azmi, along with her daughter Esha Deol, Sushmita Sen, politician Sanjay Nirupam also came to pay their respects.
Actor Ajay Devgn and wife Kajol, Tanisha, Imtiaz Ali, Sajid Khan, Vidya Balan along with husband Sidharth Roy Kapoor, Rekha, John Abraham, south star Chiranjeevi, Raveena Tandon, Shekhar Kapoor, Shamita Shetty, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Rajkummar Rao, Ramesh Sippy, Soha Ali Khan, Neha Dhupia, Angad Bedi, Kunal Khemu also came to offer their condolences.
The body of Sridevi, whose sudden death triggered a frenzy of grief and disbelief, was flown back to Mumbai last night after the Dubai authorities determined that she had accidentally drowned in her hotel bathtub.