Bollywood icon Sridevi found dead in Dubai hotel

Indian actress Sridevi Kapoor arrives at the Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech in 2012.
Indian actress Sridevi Kapoor arrives at the Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech in 2012.
(Lionel Cironneau / Associated Press)

Sridevi Kapoor, Bollywood’s leading lady of the 1980s and ‘90s who redefined stardom for actresses in India, has died at age 54.

The actress was described as the first female superstar in India’s male-dominated film industry.

She used one name on-screen, like many leading ladies of her generation, and was known for her comic timing and her dancing skills, a great asset in the song-and-dance melodramas that are a staple of mainstream Indian cinema.


Sridevi drowned Saturday in a Dubai hotel bathtub following a “loss of consciousness,” according to the Dubai Media Office. She had been in Dubai to attend a wedding in her extended family.

Indian political leaders and entertainers posted condolences and recollections of her work, with many colleagues and fans expressing shock at the sudden news.

“Woken up to this tragic news. Absolute shock. Sad,” tweeted Rishi Kapoor, her costar in the 1989 film “Chandni,” or “Moonlight,” in which Sridevi played a woman choosing between two loves.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences too. “Saddened by the untimely demise of noted actor Sridevi. She was a veteran of the film industry, whose long career included diverse roles and memorable performances,” he tweeted.

Sridevi began acting as a child in regional cinema in India’s south and made her debut in Hindi-language Bollywood films in the late ‘70s.

Other famous roles included “Mr. India,” in which she played a reporter, and “Lamhe,” or “Moments,” a 1991 film in which she played dual roles of mother and teenage daughter.


Her impeccable comic timing and her dancing skills were front and center in “Chaalbaaz,” or “Game Player,” in 1989, in which she played twins separated at birth.

She shared the screen with some of Indian cinema’s most iconic leading men, from Amitabh Bachchan to Shahrukh Khan. Another costar was Anil Kapoor, her brother-in-law who was known in the West for his role in “Slumdog Millionaire.”

She stopped acting for several years after her marriage to film producer Boney Kapoor but made a well-received comeback in 2012 with “English Vinglish,” a nuanced performance about a middle-aged woman learning English to fit in better with her family.

Her last performance was the 2017 film “Mom,” in which she played a woman seeking vengeance after her stepdaughter is raped.

She is survived by her husband and two daughters.

A Times staff writer contributed to this report



9:50 a.m.: This story was updated with official cause of death.

This article was originally published at 9:15 a.m.