Dev Alahan’s qualms over Sunita’s involvement in the Rovers fire are set to resurface next week thanks to Asha and Aadi’s conviction that their mum is innocent. Suddenly consumed by the need to clear Sunita’s name, Dev will turn detective in order to discover the truth:
“The whole way through this, he’s had nagging doubts about Sunita having done this,” says Jimmi Harkishin, who plays Dev. “It just doesn’t make sense to him. No matter how much she’s hurt him emotionally, he still knows in his heart of hearts what a gentle person she was and that just doesn’t marry with the accusation that she started the fire.”
And why has proving her innocence suddenly become so important to him? “The kids are being bullied at school. They live in a small community and other children are calling their mum a murderer and an arsonist. So he asks them outright: do they believe their mother really did this?
“It’s a brutal and bare moment for Dev. At that point, he has a sort of epiphany, a moment of complete disbelief that Sunita had the capacity to cause all of this. So when he starts to tell people in the pub that he wants the case to be reopened, he’s not being bombastic about it. He declares her innocence and presents the evidence to everyone that’s there, including Karl. Dev just has an unshakeable faith in Sunita and that isn’t going to go away.”
Of course, the real aronist – killer Karl Munro (John Michie) – is still at large and in a state of growing panic as he worries that the net could close in. His solution is to tell people that he’s worried for Dev’s mental state. But will those in Weatherfield be convinced by his concern?
“I think most people are worried for Dev’s mental state! Quite rightly as well,” says Harkishin. “He’s totally fractured and his behaviour is obsessive and slightly erratic. But the obsession he has for finding the truth comes from severe stress. He goes over and over the same questions and in doing so he alienates a lot of people. It’s like he’s got a bone that he just can’t let go of.”
One person who does have time for Dev, though, is Mary – childcare guru, sympathetic ear and all-round good egg. Is this a relationship that Harkishin enjoys?
“Yes, the only person Dev truly listens to is Mary. She doesn’t try and fob him off and he doesn’t find any cynicism in her demeanour. The pairing of Dev and Mary may not look like a natural one, but it’s actually an incredible relationship that really works.
“Dev also has Sophie, but she’s almost like an older daughter figure to him. But the story with Mary is so courtly and well considered. I love that she brings structure and good intent to Dev’s household.”
And does the actor enjoy seeing Dev put through the emotional wringer? “Well, Dev’s certainly been through it, hasn’t he? His wife left him for someone else, his kids were taken into care at one point. So he knows he has to pick himself up again. It’s not been easy and putting yourself in his shoes hasn’t been enjoyable at times, but it’s been challenging and I’ve been trying to roll with it and let it come naturally.”
However, one continuing source of comfort for both actor and character remain Dev’s two children Aadi and Asha and the actors who play them, Zennon Ditchett and Tanisha Gorey: “They are wonderful and it’s been fantastic to see them develop and grow around me. They have to do some really challenging stuff and have had to learn discipline. Now, they’re starting to get comfortable in the skin and I get the best of them when they’re here.”