Page last updated at 08:46 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Talking Shop: Preeya Kalidas

BBC soap EastEnders is introducing another Asian character to its storylines next month. Preeya Kalidas will play Amira Shah - the girlfriend of forthcoming character Syed Masood (Marc Elliott).

Preeya Kalidas
Preeya Kalidas's character causes a stir in Albert Square

The British Asian actress is no stranger to stage, screen and television.

She currently has a part in BBC One's Mistresses and starred in A R Rahman's West End show Bombay Dreams, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

She sang the hit song Shakalaka Baby, which won best video at MTV Asia Awards.

Her credits also include the films Bend It Like Beckham and East is East.

So you are joining EastEnders - tell us about your character?

She's a bit of a socialite. She's called Amira and she kind of kicks up a bit of fuss in Albert Square.

And she's associated with one of the Masoods?

That's right, their son. Not the youngest son but their eldest son who turns up. He's beautiful and really nice.

Are you looking forward to going into the Square?

I am. I'm quite nervous actually because it's a whole different way of working. I went in for rehearsals and had a talk from the director who gave me a whole lowdown on how and what the process is.

Nitin Ganatra (Mahood Ahmed), who I know and have worked with before, gave me a whole insight into the world - and that world is a very different way of working. It's quite quick so you kind of really have to be on it.

What is it about EastEnders that made you take the role?

It's such an institution and I watched EastEnders when I was growing up. It's so weird because my family still watch it. I have to admit I haven't seen it for a while but it's one of those programmes you can dip in and out of and you kind of get into it.

So, it was weird the first day going onto the Square - it's kind of overwhelming. It's a national treasure, it's the nation's best-loved show so to be part of that is just amazing.

Do you think there is a good representation of British Asians in the soap?

I definitely know the Masoods are a really popular family and they're doing really well and they're great actors. They have such fun with it and I think they just make it really work.

I can't talk on behalf of the whole community but I think what they're doing is great and, as far as I know, the response to them has been really good.

Do you think we will see more Asian characters in the Square?

Why not?! There's so much to represent within our communities and that for me is quite exciting going in and doing that even though she (Amira) is a snob at first. She has issues, let's say, so that's why she reacts the way she does initially. It's great!

Preeya Kalidas was talking exclusively to the BBC Asian Network's Shabnam Mahmood.

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