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Character Profiles > Priya Kapoor Menik Gooneratne

Priya Kapoor (nee Gupta) 2011, 2012-2013
Lived: Kapoor house, 24 Ramsay Street
Marital Status: Ajay Kapoor
Children: Rani
Occupation: Principal at Erinsborough High School

Strong, opinionated teacher Priya Kapoor was first introduced to the residents of Ramsay Street when lawyer Toadie Rebecchi interrupted her anniversary dinner with her husband, councillor Ajay Kapoor. He needed Ajay to sign some papers for the planning of a new shopping centre in the area, eventually convincing him and buying the happy couple a bottle of champagne as an anniversary gift.

Some weeks later, Priya, formerly the vice principal at Eden Hills Grammar School, took over as acting principal of Erinsborough High, when Michael Williams was taken ill. Priya's first official engagement in the role was the opening of Erinsborough's history wall and, earlier that day, she met Erinsborough News editor Paul Robinson. Never one to miss an opportunity to flirt with an attractive lady, Paul was quick to get chatting with Priya, unaware that she was married to Ajay, who Paul had recently made an enemy of, over the council's agreement to the new shopping centre. Attending the history wall opening, Paul made several jibes to Priya about what a useless councillor Ajay had been for the area, only to be embarrassed when Ajay invited his wife on stage for the unveiling of the wall's final panel.

Only days after taking the Erinsborough High job, Priya found herself caught up in a scandal when student teacher Kate Ramsay was accused of kissing one of her students, Noah Parkin. Lovesick Noah had announced the kiss in front of everyone at the history wall opening, but Kate denied it, and the whole situation upset Kate's younger sister Sophie, who'd had a crush on Noah for months. When it emerged that the kiss had been filmed as part of time-lapse footage of the history wall and Sophie grew increasingly distraught, Kate was forced to confess and Priya had to suspend her and refer it to the Victorian Institute of Teaching. Paul, Kate's uncle, wasn't about to let his niece lose her career though, and pestered Noah until he learnt that Kate had only kissed him as she'd been so upset about the death of her ex-boyfriend, Mark Brennan. Paul took this information to Priya who was getting annoyed with his interference, and eventually Noah went to her too, explaining that he'd been pursuing Kate for weeks and had caught her at a very low moment. With this new information, Priya agreed to keep it as an internal matter, saving Kate's career, but, furious that Mark's death was now public knowledge and unable to salvage her relationship with Sophie, decided to quit anyway

Meanwhile, Priya was busy trying to find a new house for her, Ajay and their 14-year-old daughter Rani. As she waited for the real estate agent at Harold's, she got chatting to Susan Kennedy, and the pair realized that they'd been double booked by the agent. A new friendship was almost born, until Priya realised that Susan worked for the Erinsborough News and, still furious over the corruption articles that had almost ended Ajay's career, she refused to have anything more to do with her. Susan insisted that she'd tried to stop Paul from publishing and later, Priya realised that she'd been too quick to judge and the two women had a coffee and talked about their marriages.

After Michael Williams decided that he'd had enough of his high workload and wanted to return to a classroom role, Priya applied for the job and, despite some tough questions from school board member Paul during the interview, she because Erinsborough High's new principal. On her first day, Priya caused problems by enforcing a tough new uniform rule, forcing Sophie to remove her nose ring and sitting in on the teachers to observe them. She then caused problems for employee Lucas Fitzgerald by cancelling his previously-arranged leave, and tried - and failed - to convince Kate to return to her placement at the school, as she struggled with staff shortages.

Further problems arose when Priya agreed to allow Andrew Robinson to film a video clip at the school for Red Cotton, the band he was managing. With the media students involved in the process, music student Sophie demanded that she be allowed to take part too, forging Kate's signature on the permission slip after finding out that Kate had disappeared to go travelling. With her problems piling up, Sophie finally snapped during the filming and trashed one of the school toilets. Paul, Sophie's uncle and guardian in Kate's absence, begged Priya to be lenient, even in light of the forged signature, and Priya told Sophie that she would have to make a public apology for her actions. Sophie, however, was unable to go through with it, refusing to say that what she did was wrong, and ended up finding herself expelled from Erinsborough High. With Sophie's behaviour spiralling out of control, she was almost placed into foster care and ran away from home, hiding with Rani at the Kapoor house, though she was discovered by Paul before Priya and Ajay found out what their daughter had been doing.

Around the same time, Summer Hoyland, a promising student who had only just completed year 12, went to see Priya and admitted that she had cheated on one of her exams - the discovery of which had led to Michael Williams' health problems a few months earlier. Though Michael's memories of the incident had only just returned, he had given Summer the chance to come clean or live with her guilt, and she eventually opted to own up. Priya reported her and Summer lost her place on the journalism course at the local uni, which led to her decision to return to Erinsborough High and repeat year 12.

When Paul was appointed as Sophie’s legal guardian, he made further attempts to get her back into Erinsborough High, but Priya was adamant that Sophie hadn’t learnt her lesson. Paul then tried another tactic, offering to donate money to the school for a new media centre. Priya, and the school board, was happy to accept, only to later realise that it was under the condition that Sophie be allowed to come back. When Priya told him that she thought his offer came without conditions, he withdrew the money. Some weeks later, after losing his editorship of the Erinsborough News, Paul was trying to raise his public profile and once again offered the money to the school. Priya was happy to accept, and even attended a small press gathering to take the cheque, but couldn't resist making a few digs to the reporters about how Paul never did anything without strings attached. A furious Paul ripped up the cheque and walked away, once again leaving his reputation in tatters.

At home, Priya was becoming increasingly frustrated with Ajay leaving her out of important decisions, and was annoyed to be one of the last to hear that, if he was re-elected as local councillor, there was a chance he could be put forward for pre-selection for the national government. Though slightly taken aback, Priya helped her husband with his campaigning - which took a sudden downturn when Paul posted a video on the Erinsborough News website, of Ajay at band practice, calling the mayor an old windbag. After losing his place on the council, Ajay shocked Priya once again by buying 24 Ramsay Street, with a last second bid at the auction. And Priya's feelings of exclusion in her own family only got worse as she struggled to convince Rani to wear her new glasses, whereas it only took a few words from Ajay to change their daughter's mind. At first reluctant to move into number 24, particularly with Paul living next door, Priya slowly started to warm to the idea, though she and Ajay had to fight Paul to move a fence in the back garden and give them their rightful amount of land. But, following a successful house warming barbecue, she decided that she was going to be happy living on Ramsay Street.

Forced to make some cuts to the school budget, Priya called a meeting to discuss cutting the vocational courses, including Sonya's school garden project. Sonya gave an impassioned plea to continue the project, and Priya braced herself as committee member Paul spoke up, believing that he would automatically disagree with anything Priya said, but was in for a surprise when he gave her his support. Though Priya and Paul were outvoted, Priya was happy to have Paul as an ally for once, and later they had a drink at the bar. But when Paul started sending her text messages, and left a bottle of champagne as a thank-you gift, when Priya talked Kate into returning to her teaching career, Priya was uncomfortable. Their paths continued to cross, after Sophie was involved in a car accident and in a serious condition in hospital, when Priya brought a card and flowers from her classmates.

When Ajay took a job at Simmons & Colbert law firm, it meant that he was spending more time working than usual and, although she was insistent that it wasn't an issue for her, Priya was struggling with the situation. Though she managed to bond with Rani after agreeing to buy contact lenses for her daughter, Priya was continuing to fight off the attentions of Paul and with Ajay working so much, their neighbour was finding plenty of opportunity to get Priya alone. After Ajay had to work late one night, when Priya had arranged a romantic meal, Paul called in with some paperwork for the school board and, as he showered her with compliments, they almost kissed, but she quickly sent him away and, later, sent him a text telling him to stay away from her. Never one to back down from a challenge, Paul arranged a meeting with her at the school the next day, but she told him that she was cancelling it, and would continue to cancel until he got the message - but Paul had already realised how unhappy she was, and how tempting an affair had become, and he wasn't about to give up.

He continued to attempt to spend time with her, even arranging for Lassiter's to become part of the school's VET teaching programme, with a course on hospitality. Trying to get Priya alone, he asked to give her a tour of the hotel, but she beat him at his own game, bringing along teacher Kate, and VET tutors Sonya and Lucas. When they all gradually had to leave, Paul was left alone with Priya in a hotel room, slipping a key card into her bag. When she later found it, she called him and he said he'd be in the room for another half hour, if she wanted to join him. She managed to resist, and Paul was furious at the snub, but continued to pursue Priya as they planned a meeting to pitch the idea for the hotel's hospitality course. When Paul failed to come to the meeting, an angry Priya went to his house, where the sexual tension finally bubbled over, and they shared a kiss and started ripping each other's clothes off. Priya then rushed from the house, struggling to compose herself when Ajay later found her at the bar - and realising that she'd left her jacket at Paul's place. When Sophie returned home from rehab in Sydney, Priya joined Rani on a trip to the Robinson house and collected her jacket, with Paul telling her that she was acting oddly, and needed to stop looking guilty if this was going to work. Priya's doubts continued, but she struggled to get Paul out of her mind, so when an opportunity later presented itself to join him in the hotel room, she told Ajay she'd be late home and went to Lassiter's.

The affair continued, but when Priya watched as Paul belittled Ajay, refusing to give him one of the hotel's conference rooms for a legal meeting, she suddenly had second thoughts. She confronted Paul about his motives, asking if he was just doing this to get one over on Ajay, and telling him that it had to stop. When Paul later went to the school to talk to her, they were almost caught in her office by Kate, and the thrill of the situation led to the affair being resumed again. Priya was pleased when Ajay told her that he'd be away for a week at a law conference in Singapore, and started to make plans to see Paul, so was taken aback when Ajay suddenly changed his mind, deciding to spend more time with his family instead. Paul told her that he was pleased about this, as it would have been too easy for them to meet up if Ajay was away, and he knew that she secretly enjoyed the thrill that they might get caught out. Priya was determined to prove him wrong though, and told him that they'd have to make a schedule to see each other, arranging an appointment for 1pm that day, only for Paul to cancel at the last minute. When she tracked him down, he told her that he would only continue the affair if she ditched the timetable. Frustrated Priya struggled to get any time with Paul, as their fake VET meeting was interrupted by Kate, who wanted to pitch her ideas. Eventually Paul and Priya made their excuses and left, heading to a hotel room, where Priya ended up falling asleep after Paul had gone. When she woke up, she quickly left, but Ajay was already concerned and looking everywhere for her and when he later confronted her over her odd behaviour, she managed to lie that she'd been with Susan, listening to her personal problems.

Guilt continued to consume Priya as the affair continued, and Ajay made more effort to spend time with her too, but she simply couldn't resist the allure of Paul Robinson. As she used Susan as an excuse more and more often, Priya was forced to lie to her friend that she'd been attending pole-dancing classes, but finally the guilt got too much and she told Susan about her affair, though neglected to mention who the other man was. Susan encouraged Priya to think about which of the two men she really wanted to be with, and be honest with the other one, and Priya soon decided that her marriage was worth holding on to. As the family celebrated Diwali, Priya told Paul that things were over between them. He tried to win her back with a lavish holiday in the Whitsundays, but when that failed, he began to blackmail her into keeping the affair going, warning that he had proof and wouldn't hesitate in telling Ajay. As his threats fell on deaf ears, Paul became more emotional and admitted that he hadn't felt this way about a woman in a long time and it was becoming more than an affair to him, but Priya was determined that it had to end. As she and Paul met and shared a goodbye hug behind the Lassiter's complex, Priya was unaware that Rani had spotted them, as she helped Ajay organise a surprise anniversary treasure hunt. When Rani confronted her mum over what she'd seen, Priya insisted that it was simply an innocent hug, as she was listening to his problems over Andrew, who'd recently been diagnosed with epilepsy. Rani accepted this, but her doubts continued and when Priya bought her a leather jacket, seemingly as a 'don't tell your father what you saw' gift, Rani wondered if her mum really was trying to hide something.

When Priya found out from hotel chambermaid Sophie that Rani had seen a pair of earrings in the lost property box - a pair of earrings that Priya had left behind following an afternoon of passion in a hotel room - she realised that her secret was about to be revealed. Desperate to track down Rani, Priya heard that she had gone to a party in Frankston with Harley, and that Ajay had found her. As she arrived home, Priya's worst fears were realised, as Ajay told her that Rani was claiming that her mum had had an affair with Paul. Ajay was furious with his daughter for the lies she was telling, but Priya had to admit that it was true, and she found herself thrown out of her own home. After sleeping in the school office, Priya was found by Susan, who offered her a place to stay, but Priya knew that it was going to be a long time before she won back her husband and daughter. When Rani cut up her mum's clothes and tried to throw them away, Ajay realised that the situation wasn't a healthy one for any of them and so he invited Priya to move back into the spare room, hopeful that the mother and daughter's relationship could eventually be salvaged. Though Priya did her best to make things normal - cooking dinner and holding a Bollywood movie night - Rani made it clear that it would take a lot more to make up for everything that had happened. Things only got worse for Priya in the days that followed, as Paul subjected her to a torrent of abuse during a school board meeting, suggesting that enrolments at the school were down and that she was to blame. And at home, Priya was shocked to hear that Ajay had resigned from his job at Simmons & Colbert law firm, but he made it clear to her that his decision was nothing to do with her, and his life was no longer any of her business.

Back at Erinsborough High for the first day of the new school year, Priya was feeling more alone that ever, but was relieved when Kate told her that she would always support her. But things soon took a negative turn, as Rani started acting up, refusing to go to assembly and pushing her luck as far as she could, resulting in a week of detentions. A disruptive Rani had already posted some nasty comments about her mum on her Facebook page, which had led to someone creating a Facebook page about the Kapoors and Priya's affair. When Rani then sprayed some unpleasant graffiti about Paul on the walls of Lassiter's, Priya managed to convince Paul not to press charges, and suggested to Ajay that they should go to family counselling. Not wanting to put his daughter through any further stress, Ajay refused, so Priya went alone and began writing a journal about her feelings. She was devastated the following week when Paul smugly told her that he'd seen Ajay leaving the bar with another woman, and when Priya, who had hoped they were making some small progress, confronted Ajay, he failed to tell her that he had simply spoken to the woman all night, but announced that he had come to the conclusion that he might never be able to forgive his wife for what she'd done. A few days later, Priya learnt the truth about Ajay's night with Phillipa, and started to have hope as she finally had a normal conversation with Rani, laid things to rest with Paul - making it clear that the affair was a huge mistake that she never intended to revisit - and had a breakthrough in realising that her marriage had never been an equal partnership, though Ajay was upset as she tried to explain this, feeling that she was blaming him for the affair.

When Priya started receiving lewd text messages, she was sure that they were coming from the same person who had created the nasty Facebook page about her family. After missing a counselling session with Ajay - who had finally agreed to go along and talk things through - Rani discovered the student Alistair O'Loughlin had created the page, but he denied sending the text messages. It was later that day that Alistair's father Brian, a school board member, admitted texting her, claiming that she'd been leading him on and that her affair with Paul had shown what type of woman she was. After an informal warning from Sergeant Matt Turner, Brian seemed to back off, and Priya and Ajay seemed to be finding common ground, as he realised how much she'd been suffering lately. However, Brian wasn't quite finished with Priya, and launched a complaint against her, claiming that she'd been the one harassing him all along, and, with surprising support from both Paul and Ajay, she waited to hear her fate. Following Paul's complaint earlier in the year about enrolments being down during her tenure, and the harassment claims on top, Priya found herself suspended from the school whilst a full investigation took place. Though devastated that her career could be over, Priya found that the incident had helped to thaw things in her marriage and Ajay offered her his full support, reminding her that he had always loved her and the couple finally shared a kiss.

A few days later, as things were finally starting to get back on track for Ajay and Priya, she was devastated to learn that she'd been sacked from her job as principal and, to make matters worse, her friend Susan had been offered the position. Having already turned down a transfer to a country school, Priya knew that the only way to save her career would be to clear her name and so she arranged to meet with Brian O'Loughlin. Brian had little sympathy for her plight but, realising how desperate she was, he agreed to own up, but only if she agreed to spend the night with him. Priya managed to avoid telling Ajay about the illicit offer, instead going to Susan for advice. Having spoken to Brian's wife, Priya had realised that she wasn't the first victim of Brian's harassment, which gave Susan an idea - she met with Brian, claiming that she was writing an article of sexual harassment and had spoken to some of his female employees already. Although none of the employees had been willing to talk, Susan implied that she had enough information to expose him in the next day's paper, unless he retracted his accusations against Priya. Priya was delighted when, hours later, she heard that Brian had taken it all back, and resigned from the school board, and that she'd been offered her old job back.

With Ajay and Priya's marriage now looking a lot better, the only problem was with Rani, who was still struggling with her feelings towards her mum. When Priya bought her a pink dress to wear to Sonya and Toadie's wedding, Rani hated it and spent the wedding day in a bad mood. After arguing with Callum about it, Rani then angrily told her mum that she hated her, before storming off back to Ramsay Street. Priya and Ajay stayed behind, and she decided to text her daughter and ask her to come back. Ajay told her that he loved her, kissing his wife as he went outside to watch Sonya throw the bouquet. But as Priya began to write the message to her daughter, only the words 'Hurry back. I...' were sent, as a massive explosion, caused by a faulty gas canister, ripped through the marquee. Priya was rushed to hospital with serious injuries to her abdomen and taken into surgery, but her brain had been starved of oxygen for too long and Ajay and Rani were informed that Priya would not wake up. Broken-hearted, Ajay and Rani then said their final goodbyes to Priya.

Trivia Notes
• Menik Gooneratne previously appeared in one episode in 2000 as Shanti Pandya
• Although Priya died in episode 6604, Menik Gooneratne also appeared in episodes 6611, 6612, 6613, 6619 and 6620, as a grieving Rani saw a vision of her mum. She appeared again in episode 6661, clapping at the back of the room when Rani finished the first performance of To Agra With Love, a play that Priya had written and Rani had found on an old floppy disk
• Menik Gooneratne's name also appeared in the closing credits for episode 6684, the day before Ajay and Rani left Erinsborough, but Priya did not feature in the episode

6239, 6296, 6297, 6298, 6300, 6301, 6302, 6320, 6321, 6327, 6328, 6329, 6332, 6333, 6336, 6339, 6342, 6346, 6348, 6359, 6379, 6380, 6381, 6425, 6437, 6445, 6451, 6452, 6455, 6457, 6458, 6461-6604

Magic Moments
Episode 6239: Priya's Arrival
Episode 6604: Priya's Death

Biography by Steve