She’s spent months secretly killing off the village’s residents but Meena Jutla’s time in Emmerdale appears to be nearing the end, if her murder trial goes her victims’ way.
The ITV soap’s nurse turned serial killer, played by Paige Sandhu, went unsuspected up until January of this year when she was finally caught holding sister Manpreet Sharma and Vinny Dingle hostage and almost killing them in a disused barn.
Eventually, they were saved when Liam headed to find Meena but she did a runner, following a whack to the head, and hitched a lift with a trucker who was heading to Glasgow. But her absence from her from the village did not last long and she returned in February, kidnapping newlyweds Billy and Dawn Fletcher in an act of revenge after she got dumped by the groom.
READMORE: Emmerdale cast dazzle away from Dales drama at Danny Miller’s Once Upon a Smile Ball
Luckily, the pair escaped unscathed and wedding planner Leyla Cavanagh made a miracle recovery after being shot by Meena as she tried to find Billy and Dawn. And just as she looked set to make another getaway, she was cornered by Liam and after goading him over de ella killing his daughter de ella Leanna on her 18th birthday de ella, the doctor pushed her over the same bridge where she killed Leanna.
At a plea hearing last month, Meena pleaded guilty to her lesser crimes – in the grand schemes of things – but not guilty to the murders of Leanna, Andrea Tate, and Ben Tucker which viewers know she committed.
Now, this week in Emmerdale is all about Meena getting her comeuppance once and for all – or getting away with murder. And she’ll do anything to make sure she isn’t found guilty. But as Meena’s time in the village looks set to come to an end one way or another, we thought we’d take a look at the life of the actress who plays her.
Paige joined the soap as Meena back in September 2020 and from the very start she knew of what was to come for her evil character. But, she had to keep it a complete secret-including from her new colleagues. “I knew from the very beginning where she was going to go and how dark she really is,” the soap star previously told press. “It made it so much more fun to play knowing her secrets about her and what would unfold later.”
She added: “I found out when I heard I had got the part! It was quite a big shock but I was so up for it! When I first started other cast members would often ask me what was going to happen to my character and I had to keep it a secret from everyone. I think when they all found out they were very surprised.”
But it was too late to keep it from a couple of her love ones. Speaking in 2020, Paige said: “When my agent told me, my mum and my sister found out because I was on speakerphone. My agent then called back and said: ‘Paige, apparently it’s a secret.’
“It was too late with my mum and my sister, but I thought I would be in big trouble if it came out, so I didn’t tell my dad or my other siblings. I’m still not sure whether my dad knows my mum knew about it all that time!”
Emmerdale wasn’t Paige’s first acting job, having begun her acting career with appearances in Doctors and Endeavour. But it was certainly the ITV soap that threw her in at the deep end which has already come with a reward as she picked up Best Villain at the 2021 Inside Soap Awards and is nominated for Best Soap Actor at the upcoming TRIC Awards.
But, if she wasn’t an actress, then Paige believes she would be a singer or a nurse, which ironically is her character’s job in Emmerdale. “There wasn’t really anything else. When I was a little kid I really loved singing, and I still do now,” she told OK! in August.
“When I first started being on stage it was in amateur musicals. I started to pursue that but then found that acting was more fulfilling for me than singing. But my school was very academic, so when I said I wanted to be an actor, they said, ‘Ok, sure, but what’s the plan b?’ So I had to come up with one who, at the time, was nursing. However, in my heart, there was never a plan b.”
But things haven’t always been so easy for the 25-year-old. During her early days as an actress, Paige battled anxiety for three years after struggling to find work. She told the Mirror last year: “When I left drama school I was a very anxious person. I wasn’t getting any jobs and I was struggling. The anxiety took the form of insomnia. Life was hard and a struggle.”
Paige explained that during the difficult time, she started using a type of therapy called Emotional Freedom Technique. Those who follow the technique believe tapping pressure points on the head and face creates a balance in the body’s energy system and eases emotional distress.
“I read a couple of books on it and found it really helpful,” Paige added to the publication. I’d tap on the train or bus on the way to auditions. People would give me the weirdest looks.”
While things are different for Paige now, she still believes strongly in the importance of looking after mental health. She writes down her thoughts and fears, meditates and does Pilates and yoga. “Just syncing my breath with the movement of my body and getting away from my thoughts can be really useful,” she previously commented.
And she also shares this with her fans. Sharing a snap of herself in bed, she wrote on Instagram: “I want to take some time to address mental health with this post. So here’s me looking super fly. It’s (obviously) more important than ever to take care of our mental health these days – but, like, what does that even mean?!
“It’s not something we are taught in schools or socially… so it can be confusing to actually know how to take care of ourselves. So bearing this in mind I wanted to let you in on a few of the things that help me. Maybe they aren’t a good fit for you, maybe they are.
She then shared her tips, adding: “Anyway, here goes: Tapping/eft – check it out on YouTube. Reading a self-help book. Listening to a self-help podcast. Focusing on everything I’m grateful for and appreciate in my life. Journaling it aaaaaall out. Having a solo dance party. These are some of the things that I notice really help me shift my state of mind. I hope you are all taking care of yourselves.”
Paige lives in London and recently revealed she is in a relationship but is keeping her man secret from the spotlight. She told The Sun’s Fabulous last month: “I have got a long-term partner, but I’m not going to talk about him because I just want to protect our relationship. Sorry about that!”
But one relationship she is happy to talk about is that with her on-screen sister, played by Rebecca Sarker. Paige revealed to OK! in October that she and Rebecca have “a really close bond” commenting: “I still don’t know a lot of people in the cast because we’ve not been allowed in the same scenes. But I’ve got a really close bond with Rebecca.”
She added: “We have the same sense of humor and are very similar. We’re both quite private, low-key people who are more introverted than extroverted. She’s also a really kind and welcoming person. We just had an instant relationship that was really easy to build upon. She’s my closest friend at Emmerdale and that really helps with portraying that sisterly bond.”
That bond will soon have to be on that continues off-screen as Paige has already confirmed her Emmerdale exit. Back in February, when Meena’s return aired on-screen, Paige said on This Morning that it was “the beginning of the end” for her character de ella.
She also told press earlier this month that Meena going to prison would be a #fitting end’ and added: “I always thought that Meena’s storyline was going to have to come to an end at some point, because you just can’t let a villain as bad as Meena just carry on.There would be no-one left in the village, so her storyline has to come to an end at some point.”