India's Chandni returns home for the last time

Mumbai/Dubai, Feb 27: The body of Bollywood icon Sridevi, whose sudden death triggered a frenzy of grief, disbelief and searching questions, was flown back to Mumbai today after Dubai authorities determined that she had accidentally drowned in her hotel bathtub.

Family members, including her film-maker husband Boney Kapoor and stepson Arjun Kapoor, brought her body in a private jet after three days of uncertainty over her unexpected death on Saturday in Dubai.

Earlier today, Dubai Public Prosecutor's Office put an end to speculation about the cause of her death, saying she accidentally drowned in the bathtub following loss of consciousness, and that the "case was now closed".

It did not say what caused the 54-year-old superstar to lose consciousness.

The Embraer jet, owned by industrialist Anil Ambani, landed in Mumbai around 9.30 p.m. and the cremation is scheduled tomorrow around 3.30 p.m.

Anil Ambani, wife Tina Ambani and Anil Kapoor were among those at the airport when the plane landed.

The mortal remains were then taken to the Lokhandwala residence of the Kapoors where about a dozen police personnel and as many private security men were deployed for crowd management.

Sridevi, known as Indian cinema's first woman superstar, leaves behind her husband and their two daughters Jahnvi and Khushi.

"On behalf of Khushi, Janhvi, Boney Kapoor, the entire Kapoor and Ayyappan families, a sincere thanks to the media for your continued sensitivity and support during this emotional moment," a statement by the family said.

The 54-year-old Bollywood icon was in Dubai to attend a family wedding. Her death sent shock waves across India with those who knew her at a loss to explain how the star could die so suddenly.

At first it was reported that she died of cardiac arrest, triggering questions and disbelief. However, it later emerged that she had drowned in the bathtub in her room at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel.

As more speculation swirled, the Dubai government's media office said in a series of tweets that the case is now closed.

"Dubai Public Prosecution has approved the release of the body of the Indian actress Sridevi to her family following the completion of a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances of her death," it said.

"Dubai Public Prosecution stressed that all regular procedures followed in such cases have been completed. As per the forensic report, the death of the Indian actress occurred due to accidental drowning following loss of consciousness. The case has now been closed." 

In its statement, the family said her body will be kept at Celebration Sports Club in Lokhandwala near her home for people to pay their last respects from 9. 30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. tomorrow before it is taken for cremation.

The family said media can also pay their respects "provided camera, recording devices, etc are left outside the venue".

"The last journey will commence at 2 pm from Celebration Sports Club to Vile Parle Seva Samaj Crematorium and Hindu Cemetery," it said.

While Sridevi had stayed back in Dubai after the ceremonies, her husband Boney Kapoor had flown back to Mumbai with their younger daughter Khushi. But he returned to Dubai to surprise her, according to Khaleej Times newspaper. Arjun Kapoor reached Dubai this morning to be with his father.

In Mumbai, industry insiders and friends visited the family in the home of actor Anil Kapoor, Boney Kapoor's younger brother. With their father away, Khushi and Jahnvi were at their uncle's Juhu home.

"For me it's the most painful thing I have dealt with after my dad's passing away. And her face is coming in front of me again and again," actor Rani Mukherji told PTI.

"The love she had for me was so tremendous and intense that I feel somewhere that I have lost a guiding light in my life. She has been my inspiration personally and professionally. She was very close to me. She was like my 'maasi' I would say. She was someone I looked up to. I just feel there is one more person I have lost in my life I loved and who loved me back," Rani said.

Director Anees Bazmi, who has worked with Boney Kapoor on "No Entry", was among the many mourners trying to come to grips with the tragedy that has touched scores of Bollywood personalities.

"It is a big shock for everyone. I have worked with the entire Kapoor family. I can't imagine what Boneyji would be going through at this point. He loved her very much. Their two daughters are so young. It is a sad situation.

"I have not told the family about what the media is reporting. It is sad, unfortunate. A person like her does not deserve this," Bazmi told PTI while referring to the sensational TV coverage of the death.

The others who have called on the family in their hour of grief include Shah Rukh Khan, and his wife Gauri, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Tabu, Rekha and Farah Khan, Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi.

While celebrities went to condole her death at Anil Kapoor's residence, there were staggered crowds outside Sridevi's home in Lokhandwala's Green Acres building.

With the uncertainty and speculation finally ending, the family issued a statement thanking "the film fraternity, media, fans of late Sridevi Kapoor and all the well-wishers for their prayers, support and sensitivity during our moment of immense grief.


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