Murali Karthikeyan Muthuraman (born 13 September 1960) was born in Chennai to R. Muthuraman (known as "Navarasa Thilagam"), a popular Tamil actor. He is the fourth and youngest child of R. Muthuraman. He studied in St. Bede's Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School in Chennai and at New College, Chennai and received a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Karthik married actress Ragini in 1988; his co-star in the film Solaikuyil and the couple has two sons, actor Gautham Karthik and Ghayn Karthik. Later, he also married Ragini's sister, Rathi, in 1992 and the couple have a son, Thiran Karthik.

Karthik was first introduced by Bharathiraja in the film Alaigal Oivathillai. He received the Best New Face Award from the Tamil Nadu Government in 1980. His film Vanna Kanavugal was a super hit at the box office and K. Balachander praised his performance in the film. He collaborated with leading film directors such as Mani Ratnam, K. Balachander, Bharathiraja, Visu, R. Sundarrajan, Ameerjan, R. V. Udayakumar, Priyadarshan, Fazil, Vikraman, Agathiyan, Sundar C., K. S. Ravikumar, P. Vasu and K. V. Anand.

Karthik entered politics ahead of the 2006 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election. He joined the All India Forward Bloc, and was appointed as the Secretary of the Tamil Nadu state unit of the party. He led the party during its electoral campaign on 24 September 2006. He later started his own party Ahila India Naadalum Makkal Katchi in 2009 before the Lok Sabha Elections. He contested from Virudhunagar constituency and got only 15000 votes.

During the early 2000s, Karthik experienced a difficult period as he began to lose his popularity at the box office and new actors began to emerge in the Tamil film industry. He subsequently signed on to appear in several films, which were either dropped, shelved or indefinitely postponed during the period. Films including Prabhu Nepal's Kadhale Swasam, alongside Meena, Sundar C's Kadhal Solla Vandhen, with Isha Koppikar and Gowri Manohar's Kashmir, with Priyanka Trivedi, had audio release events but failed to have a theatrical release.

He has also appeared in some Telugu films. Karthik has been the recipient of the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and the Nandi Award. He won five Filmfare Awards South.

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