He looks a lot like a young like Idris Elba. You can almost feel the number of female readers increasing after the opening line. Yes, Elba has that clout, but our own Richard Lukunku is also getting there.

You may have seen Lukunku in feature films such as A Million Colours, The People’s War, Fihla or in HBO’s Strike Back 2. He also had a cameo role on Rhythm City. Now on the small screen in Mzansi Magic’s new telenovela, Inkaba, Lukunku can soon be seen in Mshika-Shika, a cop drama on Mzansi Magic.

“It is a twisted cop drama about one cop who is obsessed with getting a criminal that he has been chasing for years. There is a twisted revelation in the end that places the cop under a test where he has to either uphold the law or let his emotions get the better of him,” he said.

Lukunku plays that cop, a detective called Phaka, who is in his early thirties and eager to put a stop to a group of Joburg group of car thieves.

This quest and his blind obsession have implications that challenge Phaka’s integrity.

“It is going to be interesting how the story is told. There are references to real locations in Joburg and the stories are real,” said Lukunku.

A lot of effort was put in the production to make it as authentic as possible. Initially, however, Lukunku had one minor problem with the way it was crafted.

“My character speaks in English most of the time and a little vernacular. The other people around him all speak fluent local languages, so I felt that Phaka is marginalised,” he said.

“The producers then explained to me that Phaka was adopted by a white family and grew up in different conditions than those of the average black kid. This explains his massive use of English and that was fine by me,” he said.

Actors do different things to prepare for their roles. Some go to crazy lengths to immerse themselves in given roles. Lukunku may have not slept in a ditch somewhere to study the streets of Joburg, but he did do a bit of homework.

“I drowned myself in a lot of cop drama series on TV. I watched The Wire and Luther a lot just to get how ‘cops and robbers’ interact. It was an eye-opener and it helped prepare me for the lead role,” he said.

• Look out for the new crime drama Mshika-Shika which premieres at 9pm on April 3 on Mzansi Magic.