Malayalam actor Lukman Avaran: Each film is an opportunity to understand what more I can do as an actor

Lukman Avaran, making his mark as a bankable actor, looks back at his journey in Malayalam cinema

Updated - May 17, 2023 12:00 pm IST

Published - May 06, 2023 04:28 pm IST

Lukman Avaran

Lukman Avaran | Photo Credit: Courtesy: Facebook

When you ask Lukman Avaran about his new-found stardom, the actor plays it down with a laugh. “It is too early to say that. I am only getting ready as an actor,” he says.

The actor has proved his mettle with his roles in Operation Java(2021), Saudi Vellakka (2022) and Thallumaala(2022). Last seen as the lead character in Sulaikha Manzil (2023), he has Corona Jawan and Jackson Bazaar Youth coming up for release in the coming weeks. “Each film is an opportunity to understand what more I can do as an actor. There is always scope for improvement. My goal is not to do as many movies as possible. I want to be a proficient actor,” he says.

An engineering graduate hailing from Ponnani in Malappuram, cinema came quite late into Lukman’s life. “I didn’t grow up with a passion for cinema. I come from a conservative family, which has no connection with the cinema industry. I was interested in theatre during my school days, that’s all. We bought a television at home only when I was in higher secondary school. Even when I started watching movies, I didn’t think of becoming an actor because that possibility never occurred to me. But I used to act out the scenes in front of the mirror!” he says.

Date with acting

The acting bug bit him when he enrolled for engineering. “I took up engineering because my friends were doing it. That was a turning point though. I did a play in college and was selected as the best actor. [Actor] Siju Wilson, then fresh from the success of Premam, was one of the judges. He told me that I should get a portfolio done and try my luck in movies. That’s when I started thinking about becoming an actor,” he says.

After finishing college, he got a chance to act in Dayom Panthrandu (2013), directed and produced by Harshad, who went on to write Unda(2019), Puzhu (2022) and Kadinakadorame Andakadaham(2023). “I met him through a friend. Harshad said that he was ready to cast anyone who had a car! I lied that I had one when I didn’t even have a bicycle because I didn’t want to miss out on that role,” he says.

Lukman Avaran and Binu Pappu in Saudi Vellakka

Lukman Avaran and Binu Pappu in Saudi Vellakka | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Although the movie did not have a theatre release, he became friends with a bunch of people who went on to make a mark in Malayalam cinema; people such as writer-director Muhsin Parari, director-producer Zakariya, writer-director Ashraf Hamza, cinematographer Kannan Patteri etc. “They took me to Kochi where I met more people from the industry and my friends’ network got bigger. They never let me go even though I hadn’t achieved anything then,” he maintains, adding: “Luck also plays a big role in this field. I have been fortunate in that way.”

He did odd jobs even as he attended auditions and got a blink-and-miss role in Saptamasree Thaskaraha (2015). Good roles eluded him and just when he had decided to move to West Asia as per his family’s wish, Muhsin offered him an interesting role in his directorial debut, KL 10 Patthu (2015).

Turning point

The breakout role for him was as a civil police officer, Biju Kumar, in Unda. Biju travels with his unit to a Maoist-controlled region in Chattisgarh on election duty. A Dalit, he does not respond to the casteist remarks of his colleagues until the day he decides to stand up for his identity. “The role gave me immense satisfaction as an actor. Appreciation came in from all quarters and there were some criticism as well. Nobody is perfect, right?”

Lukman Avaran in Unda

Lukman Avaran in Unda | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The performance gave him a pivotal role in Tharun Moorthy’s thriller, Operation Java, a box office hit. He played Vinaya Dasan, an unemployed youth who works temporarily in Kerala Police’s cyber unit, along with Antony George (Balu Varghese). “I went through several real-life situations while enacting the character. He is searching for a job despite being a BTech graduate and I could relate to his predicament,” he says.

His new release Corona Jawan is about the village Anathadam in the Thrissur district, which holds the dubious distinction of having the most profitable liquor shop run by the government. “When the bars are closed during the pandemic, the people go crazy. It is an entertainer, with no logic whatsoever and has caricaturish characters.” Jackson Bazaar Youth is a thriller, centred around a band of the same name. His character Appu is a member of this team that stays illegally in the Jackson Bazaar colony. So they are always in conflict with the police.

Lukman Avaran

Lukman Avaran | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Corona Jawan is set in Thrissur and Jackson Bazaar Youth in Kollam. Since most of my dialogues in movies have been in the Malabar dialects, it was interesting to get out of that comfort zone,” he says. His upcoming projects include Tikitaka directed by Kala director, Rohith VS, and films by Maju (director of Appan), Ullas Vinod, and Akhil Anilkumar among others.

Is he bothered by falling footfalls in cinemas over the last few months? “You can’t blame the audience for preferring OTT platforms because going to the theatre is a costly affair these days. But people will come to cinemas if the film is good. Pre-release promotions are also important. The positive thing that has come out of the present situation is that, hopefully, there will be an accent on making good cinema,” he signs off.

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