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'Neighbours' Menik Gooneratne talks Priya, Paul future - interview

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Menik Gooneratne as Priya Kapoor

© Channel 5

Neighbours' UK fans see a surprising new friendship begin next week as Priya Kapoor starts bonding with Paul Robinson.

When Paul (Stefan Dennis) becomes a lone voice of support for Priya at a difficult school board meeting, she is stunned by his sudden change in attitude towards her given their previous clashes.

Later, as the pair enjoy drinks together at Charlie's, could this be the start of some romantic chemistry between Priya and Paul?

Digital Spy recently chatted to Menik Gooneratne, who plays Priya, to hear her thoughts on the storyline.

Up until now, there's always been a fair amount of tension between Priya and Paul. Why would you say they've struggled to get along?
"They are both very strong-willed people, but I think Priya does take the high moral ground which is not exactly Paul's style, so most of the time they are at odds with each other."

Things change between them at the school board meeting next week. What can you tell us about that?
"Priya needs to make an unpopular business decision for the good of the school programme, and she expects a lot of resistance. As Paul is usually against the way she runs the school, Priya is taken aback when he supports what she is trying to do."

We later see Priya and Paul enjoy drinks together at Charlie's. Is there some chemistry between them from Priya's point of view?
"Not at that stage, but I think they are both surprised by how they can speak to each other in a civil manner and it's actually quite pleasant. There is probably more common ground between them than they expected."

Paul and Priya bond in Neighbours

© Channel 5



Later, Priya isn't entirely honest with Ajay about the afternoon that she's spent with Paul. Why is that?
"Priya is surprised by how much she enjoyed Paul's company, and while absolutely nothing happened, she is still sorting out in her own mind what all this means."

How does Priya react when Paul sends her some champagne as a gift the next day?
"For Priya, this is crossing the line, but she is confused by how she is feeling. I think she likes the attention and she has obviously discovered another side of Paul which she finds attractive.

"But she is married - she's the respectable school principal for heaven's sake, she shouldn't have any of these thoughts. It's just really weird for her."

Neighbours fans have been speculating that a Paul and Priya affair could be on the way for quite a while now! Would you be interested to see things go further between them?
"Definitely. They are both really interesting characters."

Do you think Priya is the type of character who would have an affair guilt-free, or would she struggle with her conscience?
"She'd definitely struggle. She knows no other way but be the good wife, the good mother, the good teacher etc. This goes against all her moral beliefs."

How have you found working with Stefan Dennis on the storyline?
"It's absolutely fantastic. Stefan is a seasoned pro, so it's been great to work with someone with so much experience and who just happens to be a huge amount of fun."

Ajay bids for the Ramsay house in Neighbours

© Channel 5



There seems to be some underlying problems in the Kapoors' marriage. Why would you say they're struggling?
"Ajay and Priya 'had' to get married when they were very young because they were expecting a baby, so it's been very full-on for them.

"They had to be a family at an age when their peers were out having fun, then they were establishing their careers, now it's buying a house. There hasn't been a lot of down time."

If things did take an even bigger turn for the worse, would you be sad to see the family's stability in jeopardy so soon after joining the show?
"Hey, this is Neighbours and fans love the heightened drama. I think it makes them more interesting rather than just living day to day with no ups and downs."

How well have you settled into Neighbours? When you first joined as a guest last year, did you always know there was a long-term plan for the Kapoors?
"The show just feels like home now, I love it. I understand the councillor role came first which Sachin [Jaob] was cast for, and then the rest of the family followed as the writers saw potential for these characters. Having the Kapoors living at Number 24 now really does make them part of the landscape."

How does Neighbours compare to your previous work? Does it feel like one of your biggest projects due to the show's big international following?
"For sure! This is my first ongoing role and I certainly now have an appreciation for how much the show is loved and respected around the world."

What are your hobbies and interests outside of acting?
"I'm actually a professional photographer so I'm still very interested in that."

Can you give us any final hints on what you're filming at the moment?
"Let's just say there are a lot of tears being shed and voices raised…"

> 'Neighbours' chemistry and discovery, 'Home and Away' row - pictures
> 'Neighbours' Stefan Dennis on Paul's setback and future - interview
> Read more 'Neighbours' spoilers and news

Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5 in the UK, and weekdays at 6.30pm on Eleven in Australia. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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