In the course of a career spanning around two decades, Samuthirakani has underlined his versatility both as a National Award winning actor and State Award winning filmmaker. The former law graduate started out in showbiz as an assistant director in 1997, and subsequently got his first big break when his critically acclaimed directorial Unnai Charanadaindhen (2003) also won him the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Story Writer.
In 2008, Samuthirakani landed his breakthrough role as an actor when he essayed the role of Kanugu in the period drama Subramaniapuram, which also earned him a Filmfare (South) nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Since then, he has appeared in supporting and leading roles in around 50 films across all major South Indian film industries. Especially notable among these was the acclaimed 2015 docudrama crime-thriller Visaranai, where the actor essayed the role of a police inspector. For his performance in Visaranai, Samuthirakani won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor that year.
Other significant acting credits include Velaiyilla Pattathari (2014), Rajini Murugan (2016), Velaiilla Pattadhari 2 (2017), Nimir (2018), Yemaali (2018), Kaala (2018), Goli Soda 2 (2018), 60 Vayadu Maaniram (2018) and Vada Chennai; and the Malayalam films Shikkar (2010) and Oppam (2016). Besides these, Samuthirakani has also directed critically acclaimed movies like Naadodigal (2009) and Appa (2016) in recent times. His 2019 projects include Peranbu, Kolanji, Jackpot, Kennedy Club, Adutha Sattai and Sillu Karuppatti. His 2020 movie credits include Naadodigal 2 and Walter. His 2021 release includes Krack.