Atharva was born as the second child to film actor Murali and his wife, Shobha, on May 7, 1989.In 2009, his father found him an offer to play the lead role in a film to be produced by Sathya Jyothi Films and directed by Badri Venkatesh. Titled Baana Kaathadi, the film launched in March 2009 and had Atharva pair up with Samantha Ruth Prabhu. The film, which also had Murali making a special appearance, released on August 6, 2010 to positive reviews. He then garnered critical acclaim for his performance as a youngster suffering from delusion in the romantic thriller Muppozhudhum Un Karpanaigal (2012), before signing on to feature in Bala's period film Paradesi (2013). His role as a rural villager held as a slave in a tea plantation became his breakthrough performance, earning Atharvaa a Filmfare Award for Best Actor in Tamil. He also has an elder sister, Kavya, and a younger brother, Aakash. His grandfather Siddalingaiah is a famous Kannada film director. In January 2016, he announced that he had set up a production studio called Kickass Entertainment. The first film under his banner would be directed by Badri Venkatesh, who had introduced Atharvaa as an actor.