Thambi Ramaiah was born in Rarapuram village in Pudukkottai, and initially entered the film industry hoping to become a screenwriter. His father was a poet and a fiction writer and his mother was a housewife, while Ramaiah was their eldest child. He earned pocket money during his school days by writing love letters for his classmates. He also had an interest in lyric writing, often writing lyrics for parody versions of popular songs, while becoming trained in various instruments including the harmonium and guitar. At the age of 20, he moved to Chennai and tried to make a breakthrough into the film industry, but was hindered by his lack of contacts and instead worked for a private company for nine years. He got a break in 1994 and took up a job as a dialogue writer for a serial on Sun TV, doubling up as an assistant director, script writer and lyricist. He then earned opportunities to work as an assistant director in films directed by T. Rajender and P. Vasu, and he considers the latter his teacher of screenplay-writing. He made a cameo acting appearance in Vasu's film Malabar Police (1999) in a scene featuring Goundamani. The following year, he made his directorial début with Manu Needhi (2000), which starred Murali and Napolean in the lead roles. He carried on playing supporting roles in films as well as writing comedy tracks, also directing the Vadivelu-starrer Indiralohathil Na Azhagappan (2008).