Interview with Nina Wadia

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Interview with Nina Wadia

Post by Lou on Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:14 am

After just over a year on screen, EastEnders' Nina Wadia and her screen family are beginning to come into their own. Nina's character Zainab Masood hits rock bottom next week when her finances force her to close their business at Walford's Post Office, while her daughter Shabnam heads off to start a new life in Pakistan. Here, speaking exclusively to Digital Spy, Nina chats in-depth about her character, Zahra Ahmadi's exit and her elusive 'other son', Syed.

The Masoods' financial difficulties have extreme consequences, don't they? Why have they let it go so far?

"With Zainab, it's a question of pride. That's one of her weaknesses and she doesn't want anyone to know she's lost control of her finances, even her own family. She keeps it to herself and thinks that she'll somehow be able to find her way out of it. Unfortunately though, she's forced to close the Post Office. Dot actually gets involved in a protest in the hope of saving the Post Office and she assumes, of course, that the government are closing it down and Zainab plays along with it. She lies, without actually lying!"

Where does Zainab's pride come from?
"We haven't actually delved into her past yet. She came from a reasonably wealthy background in Pakistan, so to then struggle over here in the UK has been a huge eye opener for her. So there's definitely a lot of Zainab that we haven't really seen yet. We know that Zainab had an affair with Masood and that she was married to a local Pakistani boy and she ended up falling for Mas because he was charming, funny and I think the fact that he was British-Asian has something to do with it - it was different for her. At the time, she'd have assumed that life would have been very different to what it ended up being, as a lot of immigrants find. A lot of people haven't seen the fun-loving, cheeky side to Zainab that Mas fell in love with. That's the idea of having a slow-burn character, though, so you get to love her, or in some cases, love to hate her!"

Why is she so pushy with her children?
"She wants the best for them. There is that mentality with Asians where education is probably the most important thing down from family. If you have education, then you know you can be independent in life and you can do anything in life to be self-supportive. She is the way she is with them in the hope of teaching them to be independent. It's funny, because one of the things people do say to me in the streets is that it's nice to see a parental character that wants more for their kids!"

The week also marks the departure of your screen daughter, Shabnam. Are you going to miss Zahra Ahmadi?
"I already do. She was really, really fun on set. We had a great relationship and we're very good friends, so I was particularly gutted that she left. It's her choice at the end of the day - she felt that she wasn't being used enough and she was brave and left. The door's open for her to come back, though."

How do you feel to be portraying one of the only Muslim families in soap at the moment?
"There is a bit of weight on our shoulders, but at the same time, I hope most people realise that it's a soap and that you do have to exaggerate some of the qualities that some people have to make the storylines interesting."

There are so many questions that remain unanswered with the family. Have we only really scratched the surface?
"Oh, definitely. It's definitely a good thing. It's great that it's been done in this slow manner. It makes characters a lot more three-dimensional when that happens, as opposed to when soaps have characters whose whole storyline comes out in their first two weeks. There's definitely more to come from the Masoods, I know that for sure."

Would you like to see the Masoods other son, Syed, join?
"I'd love to see Syed! Diederick [Santer] explained to me that when you introduce characters, that you have to do it in such a way that you can talk about them until you have to see them. That way, you really do build up a picture of someone before they turn up on the Square."



I must have missed the bit where Zainab said she was married in Pakistan, I thought she'd been promised to someone but fell for Masood!
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Re: Interview with Nina Wadia

Post by HiJo on Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:18 am

She was married before! Shocked I didn't know anything about that either. I thought she'd had something going on with Imzaman but she can't have been married to him if he's Mas's brother. That kind of thing isn't allowed.
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