Shaheen Jafargholi reveals all

EastEnders actor Shaheen Jafargholi tells Soaplife about his and Shakil Kazeemi’s dramatic exit from the soap…

What’s the story?

The luckless Kazemi clan face fresh tragedy when son Shakil loses his life after a knife attack. The hard-hitting EastEnders story has been much publicised and, sadly, it also marks the exit of Shaheen Jafargholi, who’s played the teenager since 2016. But, says the actor, it’s a dramatic way to exit the show. “I’m privileged to have a storyline with so much meaning and the chance to raise awareness about knife crime,” says Shaheen. “It’s such an important issue to tackle!”

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Shaheen Jafargholi’s interview with Soaplife about Shakil Kazeemi’s tragic exit

Soaplife: What’s it been like to play out this storyline?

Shaheen Jafargholi: “It’s been strange because it’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced in my life. The most important part for me when it came to tackling how I was going to do it was making sure it was done as realistically as possible. That involved doing a lot of research.”

S: We hear you’ve had some help with that…

SJ: “Yes. We’ve been working with the Ben Kinsella Trust on the storyline really closely, so there’s been lots of information from them.”

S: Do you feel a sense of responsibility with this?

SJ: “There is a massive responsibility for everyone involved in the storyline. Especially right now with how intense the problems of knife crime have become around the UK. I’m pleased we’re doing this. It’s so important.”

S: We understand the drama kicks off when Keegan Baker steals a bike…

SJ: “Yes. It’s a typical moment for these two friends. The dynamic of Keegan and Shakil since day one has been Shakil picking up the pieces after Keegan messes up. So it’s no shock to Shakil. He sees Keegan has stolen the bike and he thinks how he can fix it.”

S: Does Shakil have any idea of the danger he’s in when he gets involved?

SJ: “I think he does. It’s been put on social media that a bike’s been stolen and Shakil soon realises it’s Keegan. He’s aware of the possible danger, but not to the extent of it. It feels right Keegan and Shakil are involved, though. It’s people their age this is happening to in real life and, sadly, a lot of stabbings are fatal. Then there’s the family and the people who are left behind who have to deal with the consequences.”

S: How does it feel for this to be your exit storyline?

SJ: “I was excited when EastEnders boss John Yorke first told me about what was going to happen. It’s something that needs to be spoken about.”

S: Would you have preferred the door to be left open?

SJ: “Obviously, I love the environment here and I’ve made some incredible friends. But no one stays for ever, it’s the nature of the business.”

S: What’s next for you?

SJ: ”I’m going to be doing music again, which I’m excited about. I took a break in my teenage years to finish school, then I’ve been on EastEnders. So now I’m leaving and I’ll be putting my energy into going to the studio and creating music. I’ve nearly got an album done already.”

EastEnders continues on BBC1.