Sridevi Funeral Report/Discussion Space

I stayed up way way way way waaaaaaay too late reading funeral coverage last night.  I think the last time I did that was for the royal wedding. Which made me start thinking how oddly public this event was, like a royal wedding more than a celebrity funeral.

The people who came all seemed to be sincerely upset.  But it was a mixture of people who would have actually known the family, and those on the outskirts of the industry.  And I suppose many others who were not photographed who merely came to the public event.

But the thing is, it WAS a public event.  The family chose to do it this way, and it doesn’t feel (to me) like they did it for publicity.  They felt a responsibility to the film community, the fan community, the nation at large, to make this a public show of mourning.

You know the Four Weddings and a Funeral poem?  “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden?

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

We studied it in a class I took in college and what my teacher said was that it was about public versus private grief.  That feeling that someone has died and now the whole world should change.  Sridevi’s death deserves and needs public grief.  There has to be something huge to recognize what has happened.

And so a 3 hour open to all ceremony at a large open club, with every member of the film fraternity coming one by one to pay their respects and indicate their allegiance, with a steadily growing crowd outside, feels right.

 

And it also feels right for her to be given a full state funeral.  Her death and life were a gift to the state, to the whole country even.  She deserves to have that acknowledged, and it is good for those she left behind to feel it is acknowledged.

It is also good for the film industry to be there not just to comfort the family, or to attend the general viewing, but at the end.  She was important to her family, but also to the film family, and that smaller ceremony wouldn’t have been right without leading members of the film fraternity observing it.

 

Finally, there are some good things from this story.  Based on the photos of the family that I am not including (because it felt wrong), and the reports that are filtering out, it sounds like Arjun Kapoor has been with his sisters almost constantly for the past 3 days, only leaving them when he went to be with his father.  He was also the pillar of strength during the complex arrangements, the one to speak to the crowd and ask them to be respectful, the one to stand in the hearse and help balance the coffin, the one to help with all these complicated things while his father was too overcome with grief.  I don’t know why myself and the media and millions of other people are so obsessed with Arjun’s relationship with his halfsisters, but we are!  And I don’t think it’s a bad thing, we just want something good to come out of this, and we want to feel like those girls have someone around to take care of them.  And it looks like Arjun is stepping up to be that person in ways big and small.

Also, Sonam Kapoor’s unofficial relationship with Anand Ahuja seems very official all of a sudden.  Her boyfriend didn’t just accompany her to the viewing, reports say that the two of them remained with the body while other family members greeted guests.  That’s not boyfriend stuff, that’s fiance or husband stuff.  I’m glad this confusing horrible thing served to bring them closer together, and that he was there standing by to help the family however he was needed.

 

There is one final thing I am waiting for.  So far, there have been no pictures of Amitabh visiting the house, visiting the viewing, or arriving at the crematorium.  This seems odd to me.  Both as a leader of the film industry and as a personal friend, I would think he would be there.  So the only thing I can think is that either there was concern with crowd control and so on if he were present, or there was concern with crowd control and so on if he were visible.  So either he didn’t come at all and sent his wife and daughter and daughter-in-law, or he came but Abhishek brought him in through the back and that is why there are no photos of the two of them.  After all, remember how crazy it got when he attempted to attend Rajesh Khanna’s funeral?

 

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40 thoughts on “Sridevi Funeral Report/Discussion Space

  1. Amitabh Bachchan was at the cremation. There were photos of him in his car leaving after the last rights. I think the crowd made it hard to photograph everyone.

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    • Thanks, that is what I expected, I was just surprised not to see photos. There were no photos of him at the house or the viewing, but I could believe he just didn’t go feeling that the press circus and crowd madness (with Rajesh Khanna it really was ridiculous when he arrived) he would cause wouldn’t be worth it. It seemed completely respectful to me that he would send the women of the family to the viewing and just come with Abhishek to the cremation, but it seemed a little odd to not even go to the cremation.

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    • What I saw somewhere (which may be inaccurate) is that state honors are awarded by default to elected government officials, but it is up to the state government (Maharashtra, not India as a whole) to decide who gets it besides that. With fits with what I heard/saw of the ceremony, it was an honor guard of Maharashtrian police (I think), not army.

      All of this, as I said, completely appropriate and I hope it sets a trend. Amitabh, for instance, if/when he dies should certainly get state honors from Maharashtra if not the national government. An acknowledgement of all the film industry in general and these figures in particular have done for this state.

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        • If the Gandhi’s are back in power then, the Prime Minister would be a close family friend, which adds another layer to it unrelated to his stardom.

          On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 11:51 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • He and Rajiv were best friends growing up, he was running in and out of the prime minister’s house most of his childhood. Speaking of big shocking deaths, Amitabh was the one who met Rajiv at the airport when he flew back to Delhi after Indira’s death, and was by his side straight through to the funeral. They had a falling out at some point after that, possibly over Rajiv’s failure to fully support Amitabh during his political scandal after Rajiv was the one who helped convince him to run for office. But there is still an unspoken family connection there, I am sure if/when Amitabh dies, Rahul and Sonia will both give statements referring to a decades long closeness.

            Here he is with Rajiv at Indira’s funeral:

            And here he is with Rajiv and Indira and Dara Singh, when they were both boys (Dara Singh was visiting the Prime Minister, and naturally the two teenage boys were excited to meet him). Amitabh was already so tall!

            On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 11:57 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Two things: It is considered extremely unseemly and disrespectful (if not outright offensive) to talk about the death of a living person. So I find all this speculation about what would happen in the future quite distasteful.

            Two: The Gandhis and Bachchans fell out a long, long time ago, while Rajiv Gandhi was still alive. It’s why Amitabh and Jaya took up with Amar Singh and his party in UP.

            Bonus: There is very little chance of the Gandhis coming back to power in the foreseeable future.

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  2. And regarding Arjun Kapoor, he has my full respect now. His half sisters need him now, and considering the fact that he went through a similar situation when his mother passed away before his debut film released, he can provide a lot of support to Jahnvi.

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    • From my own experience of funerals, it can be especially wonderful to have someone who is not grieving themselves to help you. It sounds terrible, but in a way Arjun’s distance from his stepmother is a blessing right now. He can be the strong one for his father and his sisters. And he is also the best one in the family to step in and help Jhanvi through her debut. Not just in terms of private advice, but the public face as well, it wouldn’t be strange for him to sit in with her on her interviews, at the music launch, all the rest of it where she was probably planning on her mother being there to help her navigate this new situation. I’d hate to think about being 19 years old and facing dozens of reporters all desperate to get a juicy soundbite with no one by my side to defend me.

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      • I was thinking about all the promotional interviews which Jahnvi would do with Sridevi. Yes, it would be very comforting if Arjun would help her navigate. And I’m sure Karan’s going to hold her hand throughout.

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  3. Salman.. where’s Salman in all these? No tweets, no appearance. He’s close with Boney & has worked with Sridevi. I don’t remember seeing anyone from his family at all at the funeral.

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    • Salman went to see the family the night before. I think Arbaaz was spotted at the viewing, prior to the cremation which took place at another location. I’m not 100% sure so don’t quote me on that one though.

      But it’s still odd for Salman to not show up on the actual funeral day considering he did work with Sridevi in a few movies and is apparently close to Boney who produced some movies of his. There were people like Karan Johar and SRK who attended multiple events.

      Aamir was a complete no show apart from a twitter post. Maybe he’s not in town.

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      • Rishi Kapoor was missing too. But Randhir and Rajiv both went, and Ranbir, and Karisma, which seemed like the family was making an effort to show respect. I would guess that Rishi was out of town so the family wanted to be sure to show that everyone in town would come. In the same way I didn’t seem any pictures of Saif, but Sara Ali Khan went to the house.

        Aamir missed Yash Chopra’s funeral too and I am still mad about that! And in that case he wasn’t just out of town, he was actually on Hajj.

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          • That explains it, it was so strange to see Sara navigate this press nightmare all by herself, I was really surprised they sent her alone. But it sounds like there was no other option if they wanted to have any kind of a family presence to express condolences. And she is 24 (I think) and filming her first movie, I guess it’s time for her to start being responsible.

            On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 11:55 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Oh, I am sure he was there. He visited the house, and Arbaaz came to the viewing. I somehow have the feeling that it was harder to get shots at the crematorium than elsewhere. I suspect he was similar to Amitabh, stayed away from the viewing and sent family members instead, but then made a point to be at the cremation. Baring photographic evidence one way or the other, that’s what I will assume.

      On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 10:09 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Can’t believe that happened. Even now when I’m at my desk, it suddenly hits me that Sridevi is no more and that takes a while to process. I think Sridevi did the best thing for Jahnvi by having her debut with Karan, he really is the best mentor one could have, he is fiercely loyal. And he’s been around the whole time. He will definitely help her navigate this.
    Lots of respect for Arjun, and so nice to see Boney acknowledged him and Anshula is his press release.

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    • I think this is exactly why people are fighting to have Karan debut their children. Once he makes that commitment, he really really commits. From what I heard, I think perhaps Amrita decided to have Sara debut not with him because she didn’t want to wait until after Jhanvi was done debuting, there were rumors at one point she would be in Student of the Year 2 with Tiger and that would have been another year. Of course now she is stuck in that doomed film with a director/producer who doesn’t care about her at all.

      On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 3:15 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Seem like basically everyone who was supposed to be there was there. Amitabh has made a conscious decision to not mention Sridevi’s name however in his posts and I don’t understand why. He has mentioned other actors in his tweets, why not now? Perhaps not that close and therefore doesn’t want to have his name be the byline upon her death? Same with Shahrukh, I feel like they write personal comments all the time, but this time around they seem so hesitant. MAYBE it’s because in all the global reports Priyanka Chopra’s name and tweet has already been mentioned and they see no need to add to that now, and have just given their respects privately? Anyway, new follower to your blog, it’s so interesting!

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    • Welcome to the blog! And thank you for commenting, please keep commenting I love comments.

      I can’t quite articulate why, but it seems appropriate for Shahrukh and Amitabh to have held off on commenting until after the funeral, since they were able to go to the funeral. Maybe because anything they wanted to say about her death, they could say perfectly well to the people actually affected? I found Aamir’s post completely appropriate, since (for some reason) he wasn’t able to attend. It was respectful and formal and thoughtful and came not too late, but not too soon either.

      Now that the funeral is over, Shahrukh and Amitabh have both put up tweets to acknowledge their feelings, which also feels appropriate, kind of like signing a condolences book that the family can read over and over after the ceremonies are through. As for not saying her name, Amitabh I think does mention it in his final tweet, Shahrukh doesn’t but it is clear who he is talking about. Perhaps it just seems strange to bluntly say it instead of talking generally about grief?

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  6. The coverage on your blog, Margaret, seems very balanced to me…I decided to rely on you and the commentators after having read some people who just exploited Sridevi’s death for their own means in a rather disrespectful manner.
    Thanks also for the input about her work (my knowledge was based on only five movies).
    I liked the silence ShahRukh kept till after the cremation and then, what he wrote, was close to the thoughts I had myself…and it reminded me the way Aryan in Mohabbatein talked about living with the death of a very beloved one.

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    • Yes, I found it very appropriate that both Amitabh and Shahrukh waited until everything was over to post their thoughts. And I found it appropriate that Aamir posted his immediately knowing he could not attend.

      It felt like a sympathy note, sort of. If you are going to the wake and the funeral, you wouldn’t write a note, because you will be seeing the family anyway. But after the funeral, you might follow up with a card or write something in a sympathy book. Aamir on the other hand seems to have been out of the country and unable to attend, so it was completely right for him to write a thoughtful and formal note as soon as he could.

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      • Well there’s still possibly the terahveen, them being kapoors they’d probably have a pooja for that, and generally anyone who can’t attend the viewing or the cremation attends that one. If the family keeps it open for non-family attendees that is.

        I think the grief is too big for words for people that had an attachment to them. I guess we overestimate the distance that social media offers. When it’s this personal, you’re not addressing your tweets to the people, you’re addressing it to the person you lost. I would imagine finding the right words would be incredibly hard since you’d know thosr would be the last ever words you’d ever say to that person. For all eternity after that your words would be about them but you only say it to them this last time.

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  7. I cant be the only one feeling an enormous sense of relief that she’s no longer being made to wait. The anxiety of the arrangements and of how the day would actually go would have been killing the kids and her husband. You could just see Arjun stepping up to the rock that they needed. It’s not a consolation that he’s been exactly in this spot not so long ago.

    The biggest surprise was the media coverage. Which went from absolutely sombre on day 1 to totally trashy and unbearable after the forensic report came out on the next day to sombre and appropriate once the investigation was closed and on the day of the funeral as well.

    And the funeral felt like such an intimate affair too. Like what you expect to see when someone prominent in your own neighborhood passes away. the footage of boney doing the rituals at her pyre was just so heartbreaking. He looked so frail and broken and just going through the motions.

    And she looked so fragile, almost like a child. The viewing is the most jarring part of it apart from waking up the day after the rituals are done.

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    • Someone (I can’t remember who) pointed out that the media coverage might have become out of control because there was no real content. Just picking over the same few facts and making wild speculations. Maybe that’s the pattern, Day 1 was just processing, the funeral was such an event that it filled every news cycle, but in between was that waiting period with nothing to talk about and it all became just filler. I mean, that’s what I was doing (hopefully in a slightly more productive way) by having us talk about health and appearance and only semi-related things while we waited.

      I somehow hadn’t put it together that Arjun had been here just a few years back. I mean, that he had lost his mother, the experience of the funeral in particular I hadn’t thought about. So he would know all the confusion and difficulty of dealing with these things while you are grieving. And the importance of having someone there to just be there for you.

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      • It is quite different an experience when you’re a part of a funeral as an attendee and when you’re an active part of it. For one, the rituals may differ greatly from family to family and even different sides of the same family. Arjun would of course have known the rituals Sri needed to get since his own mom probably received the same ones. With the additional logistics of her being a much larger public figure though. But he’d know what needs to be done in the private side of things. He’d also know the exact emotions his half sisters would be dealing with including media pressure. So far, he seems to have shouldered the responsibility well enough. I don’t know what it looked like to others but he totally looked like the man of their house at the procession. Boney looked just too broken and Anil looked like the uncle who has things under control but he knows the shots would be called by the man of that family’s house.

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        • That’s what it looked like to me too. Anil and Sanjay were there and being super helpful and supportive, Sonam was doing things like standing by the body during the viewing and posting a thing on her twitter, and I am sure all sorts of other family members were there and helping, but that’s different from being really inside. In my experience of death in a family, there is a vacuum that forms, and it kind of sucks people into a new configuration. And it looks like the configuration that is now present is Arjun as the head of their small family that everyone leans on. I suspect if he hadn’t be there (as in, if he had never been born and it was just Anshula), Anil would have filled that gap, or someone else. But Arjun was there, and it seems as though he has suddenly been thrust into being responsible for his two sisters and his grief stricken father.

          On Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 10:03 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • He’s the bada beta. Rather the only beta. For those that are uninitiated in how Indian sanskaars work, this is a good example. Nobody tells you to do this. You just do it. Once assumed, you can’t step back from this role. If you do, you’re an asshole who shirks his responsibilities for the sake of individual liberties.

            It will be really interesting to see where he goes to from here.

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          • For comparison, it seems like Abhay Deol took on that responsibility for Esha and her sister. At least based on the configuration at their weddings. Which is not something I am going to fault Sunny and Bobby and their other brothers for letting happen, but it does seem to be permanent now, Abhay is the one who is there for them to lean on.

            On Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 11:28 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Sunny and Bobby are too overshadowed by their father to dare take over his place in the scheme of things.

            Abhay, since he represents his own father in their family dynamics, finds it easier to step up without it feeling like a coup. Bobby and sunny get to be the obedient boys, dharmendra gets to be the patriarch stepping back, and Abhay isn’t a threat to anyone’s position while assuming all the responsibility and also bridging the gap between the two pairs of deol kids.

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          • One of my favorite things about Abhay. Also, he has a new movie coming out? I hadn’t even heard about it, which is probably a bad sign for the film./

            On Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 11:48 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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