EastEnders' Balvinder Sopal on Suki's revenge: "She hates Ravi, but she loves him"
Actress Balvinder Sopal talks about the impact of Suki Panesar telling Davinder "Nugget" Gulati the truth about his father...
Balvinder Sopal has revealed the impact that her EastEnders character Suki Panesar taking revenge on stepson Ravi Gulati (Aaron Thiara) has next week.
Following her discovery from Denise Fox (Diane Parish) that Ravi was the one who killed his adopted father Ranveer Gulati and not her - as she had previously believed.
This also means that Suki's son Kheerat Panesar (Jaz Deol) sacrificed himself and went to prison for Suki when she was not even to blame.
As a result of this Suki decides to tell Ravi's son Davinder "Nugget" Gulait (Juhaim Rasul Choudhury) the truth about Ranveer's death and this soon sends the teen and his father spiralling.
In a new interview revealed for RadioTimes.com and other press, actress Balvinder Sopal has discussed her character's complex relationship with Ravi and also whether there is any way back for the pair...
Does Suki feel guilty about telling Nugget that Ravi is a killer?
"Yes, because I don't think she wanted to tell Nugget in the way she did. Suki deployed it out of absolute desperation because Nugget was pushing her over keeping secrets. Now, she's unwittingly pulled Nugget into this storm of a situation, and she does feel guilty."
Suki has got quite fond of Nugget, hasn’t she?
"Suki has a lovely relationship with Nugget. She adores the boy, regardless of who his father and grandfather are. They have a beautiful relationship - she loves him, and they are close. Suki always believes that Nugget is protected and safe when he's at number 41 with her or Nish."
How does she react When Ravi bursts in and tells Suki that Nugget is missing and it's her fault?
"She's shocked and horrified. There may be a level of truth in what Ravi says because if Suki hadn't said anything, then perhaps Nugget wouldn't have gone missing. But also, Ravi is playing a dangerous game because he targeted Kheerat in prison. That's made it a tit-for-tat situation between them now. Suki thought, 'I'll teach you a lesson then, shall I?' and told Nugget what Ravi did. It's revenge for the pain, trauma and heartache that he has caused Suki as a parent."
Ravi and Suki's dynamic is fascinating. How does she feel about him?
"It's such a complex relationship because Suki's connection with Ravi from day one is that he helped her cover up the murder. Ravi saved her from going down, but Kheerat got caught in the crossfire.
"Kheerat is Suki's life, and so she has had to sacrifice her son. But now she knows that if Ravi had just been honest about it in the beginning, he would have gone to prison, not Kheerat.
"I think up until this point, she has always known how to work her relationship with Ravi – he's always been there when she's needed something doing, he's always cleaned up for her, and she could always go to him to get rid of X, Y or Z. So, she trusts him in a way.
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"At this moment, the trust is broken, and I think she can't quite believe that he has done this so the deep betrayal really sticks in her stomach, and it is making her do things she might not want to do."
Do you think there is any way back from this for them?
"I hope that one day, Suki and Ravi can sit down together and have it out because I think she believes in Ravi far more than she does in Nish. They have that in common – she knows Ravi and Nish don't have the best of relationships.
"At the moment, Suki hates Ravi, but she loves him; she wants to kill him, but she needs him alive. She wants him to have nothing to do with the family, but that's impossible because he's Nugget's dad and he is Nish's son.
"Ravi is also entwined with their businesses, so it's very interesting. I love working with Aaron Thiara, so the more we can explore that relationship, the better."
Why does Suki privately hint to the police that Ravi's a bad man?
"Suki does it to plant him as a suspect and to suggest that he could be one to watch. She wants them to know Ravi's not as innocent as he makes out and that Nugget going missing has got a lot more to do with him than anyone else.
"Suki also implies she's scared of him and that he's got a temper on him. I don't think that Suki is scared of Ravi, but instead, she's trying to frame him in a calculated way. The man is grieving for the loss of his son, and he doesn't know if he's alive or dead, so this is a really callous thing for Suki to have done. Although he did sit on the secret about murdering Ranveer for a long time…"
Is she worried when Ravi and Nish confront her about talking to the police behind their backs?
"I think there's always a worry about what might happen if a plan messes up. But Suki's default is to handle things in the moment, and she doesn't walk - she runs with it! I love that energy about her. Suki knows that it's a dangerous game that she's playing, but I think she thinks that if something comes up, she'll just deal with it and find another excuse to bat their suspicions off."
Nish demands she must treat Ravi like her own son. Is that possible for her?
"No, not as her own son because of the whole Kheerat thing. But if Ravi came and showed genuine remorse for what he's done and stepped up and made it up to Suki somehow, then potentially there could be a reconciliation. Those two characters work really well together."
Does Suki feel quite alone right now?
"Yes, she does. Suki needs friends and a support network right now, but she doesn't have that. That's why she values this connection with Nugget so much because it's pure and not transactional. She's not even been like that with her own children!
"So, I think what Suki needs is allies, and if Ravi came to her and said, 'I've messed up, I'm really sorry!' I wonder what Suki would do about that. I think they could be quite a formidable team."
Suki now has two dangerous men in her orbit, Ravi and Nish – what toll is that taking on her?
"I think the trauma of many years is starting to manifest. We're seeing Suki go into a decline – mentally and physically. She feels like there is always so much happening, and she can't shut her mind down. Who can she trust? Who loves her? Who cares for her? Is there anybody there?
"It's a real concoction of stress, anxiety and trauma that she's having to navigate. I don't think she's in a good place, but she's a survivor, and she will find a way."
Do you like the new bond between her and Denise now they are united against Ravi?
"Yes, absolutely. The Suki and Denise connection is really interesting, and I've loved working with Diane Parish - she is brilliant and one of the matriarchs of the show. She's iconic!
"The fact that EastEnders is matching Suki up with other members of the Walford community as part of 'The Six' is absolutely brilliant, and the fact they are all women is amazing. It bumps up that sisterhood feeling, and it puts powerful women at the forefront of storytelling about connection, friendship and love. I think it's really important to see strong bonds between these women where they can support and help each other through difficult times."
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