Sukumaran was born in Edappal, Kerala as the elder son of Parameshwaran Nair and Subhadramma. He had a brother and two sisters. Sukumaran concentrated on his studies in the earlier days. He earned a job as a college lecturer after completing his Masters degree.
During his tenure as lecturer in English, in Scott Christian College, Nagercoil , (Madhu also became an actor while working in the same college) he got an offer to act in Nirmalyam, dirceted by M. T. Vasudevan Nair. He accepted the role of a defiant youngster in the film. The film went on to win accolades from all over and won a couple of National Film Awards as well. Despite being noted, Sukumaran didn't get any offers for some time since Nirmalaym. He was thinking of returning to his old profession, when he got an offer in Shankupushpam. With that film, Sukumaran carved a niche for himself in the Malayalam film industry. He then went on to act in meaty roles in films like Avalude Ravukal, Angadi, Bandhanam, Etho Oru Swapnam, Manasa Vacha Karmana, Ahimsha, Spodanam, Salini ente koottukari, Angakkuri, Kolilakkam, Theekkadal Sandarbam, Witness, and Kottayam Kunjachanan. His role as a defiant police police officer in Oru C.B.I. Diary kurippu and its sequel Jagratha, directed by K. Madhu was noted for its characterisation and earned cult status when the third sequel in the series Sethuramaiyer C.B.I. had Saikumar portraying the son of the police officer, with the mannerisms and voice tone of Sukumaran.
Sukaumaran won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor in 1978 for his role in Bandhanam. Sukumaran married fellow actress Mallika Sukumaran. They have two sons, both malayalam filmstars in their own right: Indrajith Sukumaran and Prithviraj Sukumaran. Sukumaran had his own production company. The company produced acclaimed films like Irakal and Padayani. The film Irakal, directed by K. G. George was selected for the Indian Panorama in the IFFI. His last film was Shibiram, directed by T.S. Suresh Babu. Sukumaran died on 16 June 1997.