Gone are the days when state funerals were initially reserved only for current and former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Union ministers and State Chief Ministers or the martyrs. Now, with changing times the laws have been amended in such a way that the state government can now decide who will be given a state funeral, depending on the stature of the deceased. If the union government has decided for a state funeral then following procedures will be applied to all over India, else if the state government has declared a state funeral then it applies only to the state.
And legendary actress Sridevi was one such rare phenomena to receive State honours by Maharashtra Government at her funeral. The actress, who was conferred Padma Shri in 2013 and was wrapped in the tricolour National flag with elaborate arrangements and was finally given a gun salute before the cremation. She indeed received a starry and overwhelming adieu from the nation. And why not? after all her aura, popularity, admiration, her cherubic persona was such that drove millions of hearts crazy. She was the first female superstar of Bollywood, in the lines of Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth, who are an industry in itself! Last it was late Shashi Kapoor to receive the gun salute.
Sridevi’s stardom and fandom and number of admirers were unmatchable. It has always been a rise and rise in Sridevi’s life, career and even after the death, the most looked upon actress Sridevi’s gigantic fame, repute , eminence was evident. The actor par excellence, who contributed in Malyalam, Hindi, Tamil & Telugu film industry through her career spanning five decades, escalated to a new level with leaving the heavenly abode in the National Flag wrapped around & a gun salute, which is deserved by rarest of the lot who has contributed immensely for the nation/state/society. We usually attribute the state honors for martyrs, but Sridevi was rarest & distinctive or rather the state honors laws have been changed in a way to cater to maximum significant figures or cover most icons, thereby making it a fairly accessible regard for the desirers.
Gone are the times when contribution was merely restricted to ones who have contributed selflessly, in the benefit of human race, in the development of the nation in any respect. But now state honors has wider reach as the Government takes into consideration the contribution made by the person to the state in various fields like politics, literature, law, science and arts, irrespective of the motive behind it or if the end result is in the welfare of the society.
Sridevi’s contribution to Indian Cinema is memorable, unparalleled & there might never be another ‘Chandni’ (shining star) within us, but eventually it boils down to the fact if her contribution was sans her professional & personal growth. If she was a great actor and set new benchmark in performing arts, then it was also about her individual growth.
But as the times and laws have been transformed, a new outlook towards state honors is being considered and it is seen in a different light now.
In the past we have had state honors for the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, spiritual leader Sathya Sai Baba, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.