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'Coronation Street' Shobna Gulati talks Sunita, Karl spark - interview

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Shobna Gulati (Sunita, Corrie)

© PA Images / Matt Crossick/EMPICS Entertainment

Coronation Street barmaid Sunita Alahan takes things a step further with troubled Karl Munro next week as the pair sleep together for the first time.

When Stella (Michelle Collins) kicks Karl (John Michie) out of The Rovers after discovering his gambling debts, Sunita steps in to comfort him - believing that they share an understanding as she's feeling disillusioned in her own relationship too.

Sunita and Karl soon give into their feelings for each other, but will this be the start of a full-blown affair? And are they playing a dangerous game? Digital Spy recently caught up with Shobna Gulati, who plays Sunita, to hear all about the storyline.

We've seen quite a few changes for Sunita this year. What do you make of her new storylines?
"I'm really enjoying them, particularly this new lease of life she's had by being in The Rovers. I'm enjoying her interpretation of being a barmaid, clothes-wise! It's all very different for her. I think we're seeing Sunita grow up into a woman."

Karl stages a break in at the pub to explain the missing takings. He tells Stella he must have forgot to set the alarm. Sunita is furious with him
Is it easy to settle in behind the Rovers bar?
"It's fantastic and it's a thrill. Stepping behind that bar makes you feel a bit humbled, because it's legendary. Bar work is not that far from stuff that I've done in the past in real life, so it doesn't freak me out. But when there are other barmaids and various characters behind the bar, it's a bit like choreography! There's so many of us, so we have to organise who's going in which direction, otherwise we'll all bump into each other!"

We've all seen the romantic spark developing between Sunita and Karl. What's the main attraction of him for Sunita?
"Everyone's asking me this! It's because he's naughty, isn't it? Sunita also thinks that he's cute, and above all, he's noticed her. That's the main thing - Dev hasn't 'seen' Sunita for ages. Even when she's dressed in her new style, Dev just thinks it's funny. He's taken his eye off the ball."

Dev and Sunita discuss the state of their relationship in an effort to try and resolve their differences
Do you think their relationship issues are all Dev's fault, or are there problems on both sides?
"I don't think it's totally Dev's fault. With Sunita, it's just a point in her life where she's growing up. Sunita started in Coronation Street when she was 23, but this is a decade on. I think any woman would say that they've changed through different decades of their lives.

"Sunita has had her kids, and now that they're growing up, she's finding herself a bit. She sees herself differently, but Dev is not noticing her. Sunita has felt very much in the background, but now she's coming out of herself and she's noticing Karl."

Doesn't Sunita find Karl's gambling problems off-putting?
"No, Sunita wants to be needed. That's the whole thing - she wants to be noticed and she wants to be needed. Every girl wants a challenge, and Sunita thinks that she can change Karl."

Karl returns to Sunita and breaks down over his mistakes. Sunita tries to comfort an emotional Karl, who tries to move in for a kiss
Stella has been a good friend to Sunita. Does Sunita feel guilty about pursuing her partner?
"Oh yes, Sunita has got lots of guilt at the moment. But further on in the storyline, I think that changes…"

After working with Jimmi Harkishin so closely over the years, would you be sad to see Sunita and Dev split up?
"Well, I think what happens in soap, stays in soap! They're a long-established couple and we don't know what's going to happen to them. We don't know whether they'll split for good, or whether they'll be like Kevin and Sally, or Deirdre and Ken! But the stakes are really high for them, because they've got the children and they've come through a lot.

"At the moment, it's great fun because there's a new, fresh energy that's come with working with John Michie and Michelle Collins, which is great. We'll have to wait and see how it progresses!"

How did you feel about saying goodbye to Nikki Patel (Amber) recently?
"Working with Nikki was great fun, because when she first joined the show in 2005, I was about to leave - so I only got a little bit of time working with her. But now I've had the chance to work more closely with her, and it was great. We're actually going out to dinner tonight! I was really sad to see her go, because I think Amber brought an interesting dynamic - she brought something else to the party."

Sunita says goodbye to Dev and the kids as they leave for their holiday without her
How are you finding life at Corrie in general?
"It's my third year back now, and it's all really good. It's been great to come back and participate again, as there's a great team and a great community here. Cast, crew and production all work towards one goal, which is the programme. I did miss them all when I was away, because everybody looks out for each other."

You're also working on a Bollywood film, aren't you?
"Yes, it's my weekend job! The film has a cast of about six to eight young people in it, and what I'm working on is the big dance section that you see in Bollywood movies. It's the 'cast of thousands' dance section, it's open to everybody, and I'll be leading three workshops on April 15. They're open access workshops - open to anybody of any age.

"Basically, they'll have the experience of doing some Bollywood with me, and then we'll go out on location to film it at the Southbank. Basically, you learn it and then you're in your own movie!"

How are you fitting it in with your busy Corrie schedule?
"I'm just working seven days a week at the moment, including nights. I am a bit of a workaholic! That's my thing and I love it. I like people, I like working in a community, and I like meeting others.

"I also love the idea of access to dance. Dance has exploded onto our screens with stuff like Strictly, Let's Dance and the various other talent shows that exist. You get to see a lot of dance now, more than you ever did ten years ago. Trying to make it accessible is something that I've always done, so to get a chance to do it on such a large scale and do it for a film is going to be great fun."

> Coronation Street's John Michie chats to Digital Spy
> Read more Coronation Street spoilers and news
> Read more of Digital Spy's exclusive soap interviews

Coronation Street airs Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays on ITV1. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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