Kovai Sarala was born into a Malayali family in Coimbatore. She completed her studies and entered the film industry with the support of her sister and father. She got her first film offer when she was in the 9th standard and acted with Vijayakumar and K. R. Vijaya in the film Velli Ratham.She was in Class X, when she played a 32-year-old pregnant woman Mundhanai Mudichu, her second film. Two years later she acted in Chinna Veedu, where she played the role of the 65-year-old mother of Bhagyaraj's character. She has mentioned the films Sathi Leelavathi, Viralukketha Veekkam, Varavu Ettana Selavu Pathana, Karagattakaran and Viswanathan Ramamoorthy as her personal favourites. She has also worked in television series and television shows. She has prominently plays supporting roles in Tamil and Telugu films. In a career spanning more than 30 years, she has appeared in over 750 films.