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Soap Insight: Rik Makarem on Nikhil Sharma

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Soap Insight: Rik Makarem on Nikhil Sharma
Actor Rik Makarem joins Emmerdale at the end of the week as one-third of a new family to arrive in the village - the Sharmas.

Makarem plays the middle Sharma sibling Nikhil and will be joined by former Coronation Street actor Chris Bisson and soap newcomer Effie Woods as his brother Jai and sister Priya. The trio descend on Emmerdale to open a new chocolate factory, aptly titled 'Sharma and Sharma'.

Of his decision to join Emmerdale, Makarem enthuses: "Emmerdale's such an iconic show - there is so much fantastic talent - so it's a real opportunity to learn the discipline of a soap which is very different to working in television dramas and films. It forces you to be completely on the ball and if you're not on the ball, it shows - so that in itself is a wonderful challenge."

Nikhil's business acumen reigns supreme no matter what the situation, especially with his older business-minded brother Jai continually hovering. Makarem continues: "Nikhil's focused, determined and ambitious. He probably has sleepless nights thinking of ways to make his factory a success! He has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but he's got a golden opportunity and he's not going to let anything mess it up. He's quite an intense character and it's perhaps the pressure he puts on himself that works against him and becomes counterproductive."

He goes on: "Under the surface, I think Nikhil's a very likeable guy as he's got a lot of sincerity and a lot of vulnerability. However, his circumstances don't allow him to show it and he becomes so obsessed with what he's trying to do that he doesn't consider other people's feelings, and causes others to dislike his personality."

Nikhil arrives in the village along with his brother Jai, but their younger sister Priya turns up during Monday night's episode, having rolled home from a hardcore night of partying. How do the trio interact?

"Despite his demeanour, Nikhil does have a big heart and he loves his brother and sister," Makarem explains. "He is trying to protect Priya because she's a loose cannon, she likes to go off partying and getting up to mischief. I think deep down he just wants the best for her. He wants to share his success and opportunities with her and it frustrates him when she doesn't play ball. He becomes quite strong and aggressive with her in an attempt to contain it and pull her back, the more he does that the more she goes the other way.

"Nikhil and Jai are a bit of a comedy duo, Jai knows every button to press to wind Nikhil up. They're very different characters, though - Nikhil is more serious, more complex and more meticulous. Whereas Jai's the maverick, the show man, the one who gets all the ladies, who can give a good speech and he's very likeable – which are all qualities I think Nikhil could be jealous of."

With the locals immediately wanting jobs and the Sharmas needing a whole workforce, the villagers clamber for the positions but only a select few are chosen. Makarem smiles: "Nikhil's not happy about having Eli working in the factory! Typically Jai gives him the job and undermines Nikhil's decision to say no. He and Eli are like chalk and cheese and he gets under his skin straightaway. Any opportunity Nikhil has to assert his authority he will, especially with Eli."

Another challenge facing the newcomers will be adapting to village life. "Nikhil actually says in the first episode that everything will be fine as long as they keep them at arm's length, which sums him up," he jests.

"I think eventually once he's adjusted to it he will find friends in the village that at first he wouldn't have thought would be his friends. People like Lisa Dingle and Laurel, who work in his factory, could support him in his hour of need and he'll be shocked by it – and it will teach him something. In terms of relationships I think he'll be attracted to people with power and a similar complexity too, because he admires the meticulous mind. He's quite a lonely person."

And finally, what's to come from the Sharmas? Makarem teases: "Conflict, excitement, they'll bring fireworks to the village, they're not going to fade into the background, you can't miss them!"

> Click here to read our recent interview with Chris Bisson Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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