Cheran was born in Pazhaiyurpatty near Madurai. His father Pandian was a Projector Operator in Vellalur touring theatre. His mother Kamala was a primary school teacher. He has two sisters. His childhood dreams were all about the celluloid world. During his school days he would act in dramas.
He came to Chennai to pursue his career in films. He worked as an Assistant Director to Director K. S. Ravikumar. It was Producer Henry who gave a break to his film career. He made his directorial debut in Bharathi Kannamma through Producer Henry. The film met many controversies. In spite of it, the film was a big box office hit and gave a break to the sinking career of actor Parthiban. He became an over night star director. He gave a hat trick of successful films Porkkaalam, Pandavar Bhoomi, and Vetri Kodi Kattu. His movies concentrate strong social messages as the story base line. This director turned actor in Director Thangarbachan's film Solla Marandha Kadhai. His fame rose to dizzying heights in the film Autograph produced and directed by him. The film was screened four times at the Montreal Film Festival, Canada, an honor which he shares with Kamal Haasan and Maniratnam. He was thrilled by the standing ovation he received, when the show was over. With memorable films like Thavamai Thavamirundhu, he has also proved his acting versatility. An energetic all rounder, he received National Award thrice for his films Vetri Kodi Kattu, Autograph, and Thavamai Thavamirundhu. He launched music company ‘Dream Sounds’ in 2013 which releases the audio of JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkai (or Yemito Ee Maaya) and Appavin Meesai.