Sridevi, 54, acted in 300 films in a career that began at age four and culminated in her becoming one of Hindi cinema's biggest female superstars.
Police were called in to control a crowd that surged towards a Mumbai club where her body was placed for people to pay their respects.
“She was in the first movie I saw in theatres. I wanted to get a last glimpse of her, but the police won’t let us in,” Indrayani, a woman from Sridevi's home state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, said.
Fans later ran behind a flower-bedecked truck carrying the body as it drove towards the crematorium.
Police in Dubai where Sridevi had gone to attend a family wedding said a post mortem showed her death on Saturday was due to drowning in her hotel room's bathtub following loss of consciousness.
Media reports had earlier said the cause of death was cardiac arrest.
Sridevi is survived by her husband, Boney Kapoor, and daughters Janhvi and Khushi. The Kapoors are a prominent film family, and her brothers-in-law, Anil and Sanjay, are actors, as is Arjun Kapoor, her husband’s son from a previous marriage.
“She was an all-round actress, a hard worker who was always willing to correct her mistakes and improve," Bharathi Pradhan, a film critic who knew Sridevi from her initial days in Bollywood, said.
"She had sensuality and oomph like no other actress of the time."