Bollywood star Sridevi dead at 54

Sridevi, Bollywood's leading lady of the 1980s and 1990s, has died. She suffered cardiac arrest, a family member said.

Began as a child actor, ascended to heights of the industry before pulling back to raise family

Actress Sridevi Kapoor is shown at a premiere for English Vinglish at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 14, 2012. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Sridevi, 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, 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 died Saturday in Dubai due to cardiac arrest, her brother-in-law Sanjay Kapoor confirmed to Indian Express online. 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 co-star in the 1989 film Chandni, 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 1970s.

Other famous roles included Mr. India, in which she played a reporter, and Chandni, where she played a woman choosing between two men who loved her. She played dual roles of a woman and her daughter in Lamhe, or Moments in 1991.

Her impeccable comic timing and her dancing skills were front and centre in Chaalbaaz in 1989, where 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 co-star 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, about a middle-aged woman learning English.

She is survived by her husband and two daughters.

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

Sridevi's death is being mourned online around the world, including tributes from actors Priyanka Chopra and Akshay Kumar and English Vinglish co-star Priya Anand.