Social worker who shifted the body of Bollywood actress into a wooden coffin speaks to Gulf News
Dubai: Legendary Indian actress Sridevi, who enthralled millions with her electrifying performances, looked like a “sleeping beauty” on her final journey home from Dubai on Tuesday evening, said a social worker who shifted her body into a wooden coffin.
Indian social worker Ashraf Thamarassery (left), known as the ‘Friend of the Dead’ for assisting the repatriation of expat residents, was among the handful of people who saw Sridevi for the last time before her mortal remains were taken to Mumbai in a private jet.
Speaking to Gulf News, Thamarassery said: “She looked like she was sleeping peacefully… a sleeping beauty.”
Her face looked thinner than how he had seen her on screen and in photos and there was no wound on her head as wrongly reported by a section of the media. Wrapped in three white cotton sheets, the first female superstar of India, who died after accidentally drowning in a bathtub in her hotel room on Saturday night, was taken in an ordinary coffin that costs Dh1,840, Thamarassery said.
After three days of high-octane drama, Sridevi’s husband Boney Kapoor and stepson Arjun Kapoor were able to fly her body home in a private jet that took off from a special terminal for executive jets at the Dubai International Airport around 5.30pm in Dubai, sources said.
Her repatriation was allowed after Dubai Public Prosecution closed the investigation into her death and issued a clearance letter to release her body to the family and the Indian Consulate in Dubai on Tuesday afternoon.
The clearance letter was required as the case was transferred to Dubai Public Prosecution after discovering that she had died due to accidental drowning and not cardiac arrest, as initially reported.
Dubai Police sources had told Gulf News that traces of alcohol were found in her body, indicating that she might have collapsed in the bathtub under the influence of alcohol.
Sources on Tuesday night confirmed Boney Kapoor — reportedly the last person to see Sridevi alive — was called to Bur Dubai police station to record his statement. He was allowed to fly home as investigators found no foul play in the incident.
Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul, confirmed to Gulf News that the Indian Consulate in Dubai, which assisted the family with the repatriation processes, had issued a No Objection Certificate in the name of Kapoor to receive and repatriate Sridevi’s mortal remains.
The celebrated couple and their younger daughter Khushi had come to the UAE to attend the much-publicised wedding of their nephew Mohit Marwah to Antara Motiwala, the niece of Indian business tycoon Anil Ambani and wife Tina.
However, after the wedding took place in Ras Al Khaimah earlier last week, Sridevi stayed back while her husband and daughter flew back home. She had checked in to Jumeirah Emirates Towers and died on the night of Saturday after her husband joined her again.
After autopsy and forensics lab tests by Dubai Police found accidental drowning as the cause of her death on Monday afternoon, uncertainty continued until Tuesday afternoon about Sridevi’s repatriation.
At the time of going to press, sources said her funeral is expected to take place Wednesday morning, ending the long wait of her millions of fans, friends and relatives in India who saw her describing herself as a fairy who came to electrify the world in one of her most famous songs Hawa Hawai.