MUMBAI: Bollywood actor Sridevi’s death in a Dubai hotel on February 24 due to accidental drowning sent waves of shock and grief across the world.
Up till now, her family members were mostly quiet about the chain of events surrounding her death and released official statements asking the public to respect their privacy, However, her husband, film producer Boney Kapoor opened up for perhaps the first time to a friend about his unscheduled trip to see his wife in Dubai, how they hugged and kissed when he surprised her and how he found her lying in a bathtub full of water without a drop of water spilling out.
Boney has recounted the “detailed account of what exactly transpired on the fateful evening of February 24” to his friend of 30 years, trade analyst Komal Nahta, who has reproduced the conversation in a blog shared on his official Twitter page.
Nahta wrote that Boney told him he pushed open the bathroom door, which had not been locked from inside, at around 8 pm after getting no response to loud calls for Sridevi and a knock on the door. Earlier, there had been a lot of speculation about the time that Boney had opened the bathroom door.
Nahta told IANS that the conversation happened on Wednesday before Sridevi’s funeral.
It was barely two hours after Boney surprised Sridevi, his ‘jaan’ and mother of their two daughters Janhvi and Khushi at Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel on Dubai, that he faced the shock of her death, writes Nahta.
Nahta likened Boney’s “unscheduled trip to Dubai” to one such outing the producer had planned in Bangalore in 1994 to catch Sridevi by surprise.
Boney said, “On 24th (February 24) morning, I spoke to her. When she told me, ‘Papa (that’s how she addressed Boney), I’m missing you’, I also told her that I was missing her a lot. But I didn’t tell her that I would be joining her in Dubai in the evening. Janhvi had seconded my idea of going to Dubai because she was scared, her mom, not used to being alone, would misplace her passport or some important document if she was alone.”
According to Boney, there had been only two occasions in the last 24 years when they had not travelled together abroad, when Sridevi had travelled to New Jersey and Vancouver, for two film appearances. “Although I didn’t accompany her on those two trips, I made sure that my friend’s wife was with her on both the occasions. The Dubai stay was the first time Sridevi was alone for two days in a foreign land,” he said.
Boney, Sridevi and Khushi were in Dubai for a family wedding which wrapped up on February 20. While Boney returned to attend an “important meeting” to attend in Lucknow on February 22, Sridevi continued her stay in Dubai to shop for Janhvi and spent two days “relaxing in her hotel room”.
The producer told Nahta that he booked himself for a 3.30 pm flight to Dubai on February 24, and reached the hotel where his wife was staying at around 6.20 pm Dubai time. After reaching the hotel where the couple reunited, and chatted for around 15 minutes, Boney freshened up and suggested they go on a “romantic dinner”.
Then Sridevi, who as he says, was in “relaxation mode”, went for a bath. “I went to the living room while Sridevi went to the master bathroom to bathe and get ready,” Boney was quoted by Nahta as having said.
In the living room, Boney told Nahta that he surfed channels and was watching the South Africa-India cricket match for few minutes followed by the Pakistan Super League cricket match highlights. After around 15-20 minutes, he was restless as it was around 8 pm then and being a Saturday, he felt restaurants would fill up.
Nahta wrote, “Boney’s impatience made him shout out to Sridevi from the living room itself. After calling out to her twice, Boney lowered the volume of the TV set. Still no reply. He then walked to the bedroom and knocked on the bathroom door and even called out to her. The unsuspecting husband, hearing the tap inside on, then called out ‘Jaan, Jaan’ still louder but got no reply, which was unusual.
“He panicked and opened the door which had not been bolted from inside, nervous but yet not at all prepared for what he was going to see. The tub was full of water and Sridevi was immersed completely, from head to toe, inside the tub. Devastated, he reached out to her but watching her motionless, he feared the worst.”
“Sridevi had drowned! Boney’s world had come crashing down.”
The much-loved actor’s sudden demise raised several questions and speculations. But as Nahta puts it, “Whether she first drowned and then became unconscious, or she first fell asleep or unconscious and then drowned, nobody will, perhaps, ever know. But she probably never got a chance to even struggle for a minute because had she moved her arms and legs in panic while drowning, there would be some water spilling out of the tub. But there wasn’t a drop of water on the floor outside the tub area.
“The mystery will remain unsolved.”