R. Sarathkumar obtained his B.Sc degree from The New College, Chennai. After obtaining his degree, he started his professional career as a journalist. He soon left his job to pursue a career in acting.
He made his cinematic debut with the Telugu film Samajamlo Sthree in the year 1986. A couple of years later, he made his Tamil film debut with the film titled Kan Simittum Neram. In addition to acting, he also produced the film. After working in Tamil film Pulan Visaranai in 1990, he never looked back. For his performance in this film, he won himself Best Villain Award.
He is in the film industry since three decades now and to date has worked in around 150 films including all south Indian language films. He started off his career by playing negative roles but after his performance as a lead actor in Tamil film Suriyan, he started getting offers to play lead actors role. He won best actor’s award for his splendid performance in films like Nattamai, Surya Vamsam, Natpukaaga, and Simmarasi. He was bestowed with MGR Award for his 100th film Thalaimagan. He also directed that film. After 2010, he has started playing supporting roles.
R.Sarathlumar after establishing himself as one of the most sought after star of south Indian film industry made his foray into politics in 1998 by joining the Tamil Nadu regional party, DMK. He contested from Tirunelveli during the 1998 general elections but lost AIADMK’s candidate M. R. Kadambur Janarthanan. He made his own political party AISMK (All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi) in 2007 and in 2011 Tamil Nadu state elections formed an alliance with AIADMK. He got elected as an MLA from Tenkasi. He though lost in the 2016 state elections.