Ayesha Dharker is probably the first Bollywood actress to star in the evergreen British soap opera Coronation Street. She plays the role of Tara Mandel. British-born, Ayesha has appeared in a number of smallish British and Indian movies but gained worldwide attention as Queen Jamilia in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. She says she owes her role in the movie to Samuel L Jackson. “Star Wars came about because I was doing a tiny little independent film about terrorism, and when the casting director of Star Wars contacted me I thought it was a joke,” she says. “Samuel L Jackson had seen my film at a festival and he really liked it, so he made a copy of it and gave it to the casting director and that’s how I got the job.”
Ayesha has previously appeared in Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee, The Mistress of Spices, Anita and Me, Loins of Punjab Presents and The Terrorist, as well as the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams. She made a particularly stunning appearance in the Dr Who episode ‘Planet of the Ood’. She will soon be seen in Red Alert: The War Within with Sunil Shetty and Sameera Reddy and Mad, Bad & Sad with Meera Syal.
Ayesha has said she prefers to work in small, interesting movies rather than in big commercial blockbusters. “I try to stay away from the commercial films because all the roles that have been offered to me … the only information you can get about a character is that she is a “bubbly, young girl” who runs around trees, and has to decide how much to pad her bra,” she explains.