|Portrayed by||Chris Bisson|
|First appearance||11 September 2009|
|Introduced by||Gavin Blyth|
Jai Sharma is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera Emmerdale, played by Chris Bisson. He made his first on-screen appearance on 11 September 2009. Jai temporarily departed Emmerdale on 24 January 2013 because of the birth of his child and returned at the end of March 2013. His storylines have included discovering Mia Macey is his daughter, marrying wayward "tart with a heart" Charity Tate, before going on to have an one-night stand with Rachel Breckle, resulting in his much desired son, Archie. This eventually culminated in their divorce when Charity discovered his betrayal, leading Jai to start a new relationship with Megan Macey, before having an affair with Leyla Harding (Roxy Shahidi). After the character had a severe accident, he was briefly comatose, before recovering.
Creation and casting
On 21 July 2009, entertainment website Digital Spy reported that Emmerdale would be introducing "a new trio of entrepreneurial siblings", Jai, Nikhil and Priya Sharma as part of the soap's ongoing reinvention. Former Coronation Street actor Chris Bisson was cast as Jai Sharma, along with Rik Makarem and Effie Woods who were cast in the roles of Nikhil and Priya Sharma respectively. Of his casting Bisson commented: "Jai is a bit of a charmer and has an eye for the ladies but he's also a hard worker with a good business mind. I'm delighted to be joining Emmerdale at a time when the show is going from strength to strength. I can't wait to get started." The show's series producer Gavin Blyth said of the family: "The Sharmas are a young, contemporary family independent of their parents and will bring the factory into the heart of the village community. They will add real vitality to life in Emmerdale." Bisson began filming his scenes on 21 July.
In an interview on 1 September 2009, Bisson explained the Sharma backstory, that "Jai had left the family business and set up a chain of mobile phone shops, sold them at the top of the market, and now has a load of money... Jai will take chances, he's a bit of a maverick, he can talk people round, he can get the best out of people and that's irritating for Nikhil because he's not at all like his big brother." 
Jai arrives in the village with his brother, Nikhil and his sister Priya, to open a sweet factory. Jai is angry when Nikhil keeps mentioning how their father would run the business, but Jai reminds Nikhil that they run the sweet factory, not their father. Jai soon befriends Faye Lamb and takes a shine to Maisie Wylde. Jai becomes annoyed with Priya's bad behaviour and tells her to stop or move out of his house. Carl King accuses Jai and Nikhil of causing a massive chemical spill and Jai decides to teach Carl a lesson, but Nikhil stops him. Jai and Faye date for a couple of months. Jai gives Charity Tate a job at the factory and makes it clear that he likes her. When Charity finds out her partner, Cain, has cheated on her, she ends her relationship and begins dating Jai. Cain tries various ways to break Jai and Charity up. Jai allows Ella Hart to stay at his place for a while when Declan Macey throws her out. Jai ends things with Charity when he finds out about her trying to undermine Nikhil at the factory. Charity tries to get Jai to change his mind, but he refuses. Jai throws Ella out when she makes advances towards him. Charity eventually persuades Jai to rekindle their relationship, and the pair become engaged. At the engagement party, Declan attacks Jai after Ella reveals that Jai is Mia Macey's father and not him.
Jai's parents, Rishi and Georgia Sharma, arrive to meet Charity. Rishi is impressed but Georgia is not and makes her feelings known. The whole family become worried about Priya's relationship with Cain. Jai tries to stop her going to meet him, but he accidentally hits her and knocks her to the ground. After being encouraged by Cain, Priya calls the police and reports him, leading to Jai being arrested for assault. He is released with a caution. Cain's interference leaves Jai and Charity feeling that they have no option but to call their wedding off. Jai is one of six suspects when Cain is attacked. Cameron Murray finds Jai standing over an unconscious Cain. When questioned, Jai insists that he found Cain in that state and that he was going to get help. Jai is arrested, but later released because of lack of evidence, until Cain tells the police that Jai attacked him. Jai's family and Charity do their best to get him released, and Charity even visits Cain and tries to persuade him to drop the charges, but Cain refuses. Jai is released on bail, and shouts at Nikhil who is trying to persuade him that Charity attacked Cain, but Jai tells him that by standing by him, her family have turned their backs on her and he is extremely grateful for her support.
Jai tells Charity that he wants children, but she does not, due to two difficult pregnancies. Jai adopts Charity's son Noah. When he learns Nikhil is going to have a baby with his girlfriend, Jai argues with Charity. He goes to the factory and gets drunk. When Rachel Breckle arrives to clean the factory, Jai persuades her to have a drink with him and they have sex. Rachel becomes pregnant and demands that Jai tell Charity about the baby. Jai keeps the pregnancy a secret from Charity and offers Rachel an expensive flat out of Emmerdale village, but Rachel refuses to move. He continues to support Rachel with money. Rachel and Charity get into an argument and Rachel goes into labour. Jai offers to give Rachel's boyfriend Sam Dingle a lift to the hospital and tries to get some information on Rachel. Jai is relieved to learn the baby has been delivered safely, but he is not allowed to see him. Rachel later lets him see his son, who is named Archie. Jai is heartbroken when Rachel bans him from seeing Archie, fearful that Charity will find out. Jai employs Rachel as a cleaner at Holdgate Farm so he is able to have contact with Archie. Jai becomes annoyed with Rachel, as he believes that her carelessness will lead to Charity discovering their one-night stand.
When Charity sees Jai with Archie, she believes that he is Archie's father and confronts him. In an attempt to save his son's marriage, Rishi claims that he is Archie's father. Jai learns Charity had a one-night stand with Declan. After a brief argument, Jai and Charity decide to try and reconcile for Noah's sake. Charity soon realises that Rishi lied to protect Jai and she ends their marriage. Charity later smashes up Jai's car with a JCB digger. Jai convinces Charity to meet up with him at the lake where she once declared her love for him, but she throws her wedding ring onto the frozen lake and Jai goes to get it back. The ice breaks and plunges him into the freezing water. Charity helps him get out and calls for an ambulance. When it arrives, she refuses to go with him. Jai gives Charity divorce papers, telling her he wants to do it as easily as possible, leaving her annoyed that he is unaffected by her actions. When Jai later finds her in bed with Ross Barton, he initially attacks him, but then refuses to play Charity's game. Charity insists on organising Archie's first birthday, but she struggles to cope, and issues an ultimatum – either Jai chooses her or Archie. Jai initially chooses Charity and Noah, even buying her an eternity ring. But he finally realises that he loves his son more, and breaks up with Charity, who bans him from seeing Noah, in an attempt to hurt him. Jai continues to see his son, until it is discovered Rachel has left the village with Archie. He hopes to gain custody of him, but Rachel does not show for her trial. He persuades Sam to help him find Rachel, giving him money to go and look for her, but the Dingles grow concerned that Sam is neglecting his son. Charity confronts Jai, and he admits he does not care about Rachel or Sam - he only wants Archie back. Charity, who has recorded the conversation, shows it to Sam, who despite Jai's efforts, realizes that he was being used and refuses to have anything to do with him.
Jai then sacks the solicitor he hired to search for Archie - before a man named Mark, approaches him after seeing the appeal Jai set up to find his son - he has information about Rachel and Archie's whereabouts. Jai is initially skeptical, until Mark shows him a picture of Rachel on his phone. Both consider backing out before agreeing to work together, on the condition that Mark gets £10,000 in return for his assistance. He leads them to Rachel's old estate where she is now living in again, claiming to see her on regular occasions, and Jai takes him at his word. He is desperate to begin searching immediately, but Mark demands another £10,000 because he believes, having criminals on the estate, people will beat him up for talking despite laying his neck on the line, as Jai is a stranger. Jai complies, and both enter the estate through different ways, allowing Mark to lose him in a matter of minutes. Unbeknownst to Jai and Rishi, Charity and Declan have trailed them to the area, terrified of having their crimes exposed. After targeting Mark, they threaten him, with Charity prepared to harm him, but Mark begs to go, admitting he hasn't seen Rachel living here for years, and agrees to keep his mouth shut. He then flees, Charity and Declan covering their own tracks and disappearing before Jai can find them. Jai himself is devastated when he realizes he has been played, as he genuinely trusted Mark. He spends a depressed evening drinking, before Declan's sister Megan (Gaynor Faye) drops by, concerned for his welfare. After confiding in one another, they kiss. The next morning, they regret their actions and decide it meant nothing, but later change their minds and become a couple.
However, Jai soon begins to turn his interests to Leyla Harding (Roxy Shahidi), who intends to invest in Sharma and Sharma, the family's confectionary factory, but she is halted by Megan, who wishes to challenge her for the possible offer. An irritated Leyla soon decides to sort things out; she proposes to Megan that they each take £40 of Jai's money and build on it in the next few hours. Megan agrees, and the women go head to head trying to outdo each other - Megan attempting to sell a deal involving chocolate santas, whilst Leyla sells burgers. Jai is initially undermining of Leyla's capabilities and thinks she is not very intelligent, but he is pleasantly surprised when Leyla dresses up in her old lapdancing costume. Although this is an unorthodox idea, Leyla quickly sells all of her stock, leaving Megan irritated at being thwarted. Soon she regrets this, and sees Leyla's potential as a business partner. She immediately becomes more amiable towards her, and persuades Leyla to join together with her in a wedding-planning business, which quickly becomes a success. He is worried, as Priya, who is pregnant with her ex David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden)'s child, soon begins to reject eating most of her food; when her family, Leyla and her sister Alicia Gallagher (Natalie Anderson) become suspicious and realize she has anorexia, she is angry, and avoids them. When Leyla confronts Jai with the revelation that she knew, he reveals that Priya suffered from anorexia in her teens, and needs help. He attempts to force her to eat, but this only distresses her further. She collapses later in the café, worrying her family greatly, forcing her to admit to the fact that she is putting herself, and furthermore her baby, in serious danger, and decides to seek professional help for the sake of her unborn child. However, she later breaks down in a car with only Leyla and Alicia for company, the latter of who Priya resents as David chose to leave her for Alicia shortly before Priya was due to marry him. They turn out to be stranded miles from help, to Priya's frustration, and she is horrified to go into labour. Whilst Leyla calls for an ambulance, Alicia is forced to put her differences with Priya aside, and helps her to give birth to a baby girl, who is dangerously small. She is named Amba, with Priya wanting her daughter to have David's name.
After Amba comes out of intensive care, Priya decides her daughter needs a father, and decides to search for a new man, but decides she wants a traditional, arranged marriage, much to her parents' chagrin. When they tell her of their disapproval, she confronts them and admits she wants to be loved again after her break up with David. Jai is still angry at Leyla snubbing him after deciding to start the business with Megan instead, but the two soon develop an attraction to each other, and kiss in secret. After an afternoon of passion in Leyla's office, they are nearly discovered by Megan, but risk continuing their relationship. Things soon sour when Priya's new beau Rakesh Kotecha (Pasha Bocarie) arrives in the village, and it is soon revealed that Rakesh is a former business rival of Jai's who he doesn't trust or like, and more so because of Priya, who reveals she is entering into an arranged marriage with him. A small rift develops between Jai and his sister, and he is rankled when they soon go on to perform their engagement ceremony, regardless of his feelings about the relationship. After having sex in the factory office, they are discovered by Rakesh, who uses the situation by blackmailing Jai into letting him continue to marry Priya, if he keeps Jai's secret. In September however, Priya begins to show signs of doubt over her impending wedding, as she reveals she doesn't love Rakesh like she wants to and had loved David. After confiding in Rakesh, they agree to marry, despite the lack of intimacy or the fact Priya fears she may never develop feelings for him. On the day, Priya is still unsure, and locks herself in the bathroom. When Rakesh talks to her, she decides to go through with it, but decides she can't after all, much to her parents' disappointment.
A month later, Declan, who was believed to be dead, returns and threatens to kill Megan, before luring everyone to their home and revealing Charity's crimes, and that she was also responsible for starting the fire at Home Farm and framing Rachel for it, before blackmailing her into leaving the village with her son. Jai and the Dingles are livid, but when Jai demands that Charity tells him where Rachel is, she claims she doesn't know. Outcasted from her family, Charity discovers that Declan has not only disappeared, but that he has left a DVD of incriminating evidence that could get her sent down. Her lawyer is unable to support her after she admitted that her involvement was 50/50 in most of the crimes, and she decides to flee, leaving Noah in Debbie's care. However, she finds a car blocking the road with the warning lights on and the doors open. When she approaches, she is attacked by a mystery assailant, and falls unconscious. Waking up in an abandoned shipping container, she finds herself chained in near darkness, with only a small bottle of water to keep her going. The door opens to reveal her attacker, who refuses to let her go. When they enter again later, she is stunned to discover her attacker is Jai, who has kidnapped her in the woods in revenge for her taking away his son. Jai tells Charity that unless she reveals the location of Archie, he will leave her to die, but she claims she doesn't have a clue of where Rachel really is, and that Declan was lying. She begs for him to let her live, reminding him of what they once had, but he is unsympathetic and tells her that she isn't getting any more food or water. After he leaves her, Sam approaches Jai back at his house, suspecting his part in Charity's sudden disappearance, and demands for him to give him his car keys so he can find her. When Jai refuses, they fight, before he is knocked over the balcony, falling heavily. Before he falls unconscious, he tells Sam that Charity is in the woods, and that the keys are in his pocket.
When he comes around in hospital from a severe coma, he discovers Charity has been rescued and is alive. After discharging and going to back to work, he meets her in the Woolpack, who threatens him that he won't get away with what he did again, and to stay away from her. Megan, who had become suspicious of Jai and Leyla, confronted her after she sees how distressed Leyla was whilst her boyfriend was still comatose, and lies that he has died, prompting grief from her, leading Megan to force her to admit the truth. Furious, Megan determines to buy her partner out of the business but is put out when she doesn't have the money to do so. She initially plans to find another way to get rid of Leyla, but later tells her that she can stay in the business, but that they work separately and don't see each other again, after Leyla's betrayal. After Leyla agrees, Megan tells her that she isn't dumping Jai, as she has lost too much already, including her young son Robbie (Jamie Shelton) and Declan, to lose Jai as well, and that she has decided to stay with him.
Holy Soap describe Jai's most memorable moment as: "Informing brother Nikhil that he now owned the factory, rather than their father."
- Kilkelly, Daniel (21 July 2009). "Three more added to 'Emmerdale' cast". Digital Spy (Hachette Filipacchi UK). Retrieved 21 January 2011.
- "Holy Soap > Emmerdale > Cast > Jai Sharma". Channel Five. (RTL Group). Retrieved 21 January 2011.