AFP – Bollywood superstar Sridevi Kapoor, one of the biggest names in Hindi cinema, has died after suffering a heart attack in Dubai, her former manager said Sunday.
The shock death of the beloved Indian star aged 54, who reportedly passed away while attending her nephew’s wedding in the emirate late Saturday night, prompted an outpouring of grief among fans and fellow Bollywood actors.
"It is shocking and sad. Mr Kapoor (her husband) was with her," her former manager Punkej Kharbanda told AFP.
Born Shree Amma Yanger Ayappan in southern Tamil Nadu state, Sridevi made her acting debut aged just four, and went on have a career spanning over four decades.
She worked in India’s regional Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam language films before entering Bollywood.
Though she made her Bollywood debut in 1979, Sridevi made a name for herself after appearing in a string of blockbuster films including "Chandni", "Mr India", "Mawali" ("Scoundrel") and "Tohfa" ("Gift").
The actor made it big in Indian movies after her 1982 Tamil film "Moondram Pirai", playing the same role in its Hindi remake, "Sadma" ("Trauma").
Her portrayal of a woman suffering from amnesia has been described by many critics as "a milestone in her illustrious career".
Kamal Haasan, a popular actor and her co-star in "Sadma", paid tribute to her on Twitter.
"Have witnessed Sridevi’s life from an adolescent teenager to the magnificent lady she became. Her stardom was well deserved," Haasan tweeted.
"Many happy moments with her flash through my mind including the last time I met her. Sadma’s lullaby haunts me now. We’ll miss her," he added.
– ‘I have no words’ –
In an interview with The New Indian Express in 2013, Sridevi spoke of missing out on a carefree childhood when she began working as an actor in the 1970s.
"I lost out on going to school and college life but I got into the film industry and worked without a gap — from child actor I went straight to heroine. There was no time to think and I was grateful for it," she said.
"In order to get something you have to lose something. You can’t have everything in life. So I am happy with what I got."
She was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, for her services to the film industry.
She was especially admired for her ability to overcome language barriers and working in different regional film industries.
Sridevi appeared in around 300 films and was set to see her older daughter Jhanvi make her Bollywood debut soon.
Indian social media and television channels were buzzing with tributes to the star as news of her death spread.
"I have no words. Condolences to everyone who loved Sridevi. A dark day. RIP", tweeted actress Priyanka Chopra.
Leading Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar also expressed his shock at her "untimely demise".
"A dream for many, had the good fortune of sharing screen space with her long ago and witnessed her continued grace over the years," Kumar tweeted.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "saddened" by the news.
"She was a veteran of the film industry, whose long career included diverse roles and memorable performances," Modi tweeted.
"My thoughts are with her family and admirers in this hour of grief," he added.
Sridevi is survived by her husband, film producer Boney Kapoor, and their two daughters, Jhanvi and Khushi.