Kanika Subramaniam grew up in a typical Tamil Brahmin household in the suburbs of Madurai. She studied at TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Madurai and was a good student with quite a few accolades including the Tamil Nadu State Award for Educational Excellence in 1999. She then got admitted on merit to BITS, in Pilani, Rajasthan, from where she graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree. On 15 June 2008, Kanika entered married life, by wedding Shyam Radhakrishnan, a US-based software engineer. She, at first, decided to leave the film industry, finishing her career as an actress, and to settle down in the US, stating that she, however, would complete her hitherto signed movies. In January 2009 then, Kanika, unexpectedly, announced her comeback with the Sathyan Anthikkad-directed Malayalam film Bhagyadevatha. She was blessed with a son, Sai Rishi in November 2010.
Having developed her singing talents from her childhood, by participating in pop music and light music shows, Kaniha was interested in singing and related performing arts. While she was still studying, she gave stage performances as a pop singer from time to time. When she was supposed to perform at the Miss Chennai event, a beauty pageant contest, in 2001, she got to participate at the contest, after a model had backed out at the last moment. Despite lack of experience, she emerged victorious at that contest, which would later pave her the way for a film career.
It was director Susi Ganesan, who spotted her from a magazine cover page, insisted on her performing the lead female role in his second feature film. Kanika eventually entered the Film industry, accepting the offer, while her name was changed to Kanika (sometimes misspelled as Kaniha or Kanihaa). Her debut film was the Mani Ratnam produced Five Star with Prasanna, who made his acting debut as well, in which Kaniha portrayed a traditional village girl. She completed the entire film during her summer holidays, since she was a student.
Kanika knew her priorities very well and shunned all the offers to complete her graduation. The fact she rejected offers from people like Shankar, P.C. Sreeram, Cheran etc. to pursue her studies raised the eyebrows of many Kollywood onlookers. Even before she finished her graduation, she completed her Telugu debut film Ottessi Chepputunna during her winter vacations. After meritoriously completing her studies, Kanika decided to give herself a go at the Tinsel towns. She gave a good account of herself in the 2004 Kannada film Annavaru, a remake of Mani Ratnam’s 1991 Tamil film Thalapathi, stepping into Kannada filmdom, too. She followed the movie with a neat, cameo role in Cheran’s Autograph, earning critical acclaim. To prove her versatility with all genres of cinema, Kanika then appeared in a comedy oriented role in the commercial film Aethiree along with Madhavan, Sada, which was directed by K. S. Ravikumar and in which she portrayed a naughty Brahmin girl. When no heroine was willing to pair with the one legged wonder hero Kutty for the film Dancer, Kanika gladly accepted the offer and did a neat job. She came back to Telugu filmdom, accepting to reprise her role in the Telugu remake of Autograph, Naa Autograph, playing the same role as in the original version. She proved to be an actress to reckon with in the Kannada film Sye, a remake of Tamil film Dhill. She finally ventured into Malayalam cinema as the heroine for the campus-based film Ennitum.
After her marriage, when she was supposed to have bid adieu to the film industry, Kaniha returned to the Malayalam cinema in 2009, with the films Bhagyadevatha, directed by veteran Sathyan Anthikkad and starring Jayaram and Narain as well, and Pazhassi Raja, directed by reputed director Hariharan and starring Mammootty, Sarath Kumar and Padmapriya among others. While the former one, in which she played the role of a homely Christian girl, was highly successful at the box office, the latter one, a biopic magnum opus historical film, in which she played the role of a queen opposite Mammootty. Pazhassi Raja,is being considered the biggest hits in the Malayalam film industry. Her rising adulation in the Malayalam industry saw her eventually sign laudable roles in the movies My Big Father and Christian Brothers before she took a maternity break.
Besides acting, Kanika has ventured into other fields as well, working as a dubbing artiste, playback singer and TV host, proving to be a versatile and talented person. Even at the prime of her career, Kanika moved to “small screen”, hosting a couple of TV shows, which she believes is a refreshing change from movies. She had first hosted the second season of the popular comedy show Kalakka Povathu Yaaru on STAR Vijay in 2006, following which she had hosted the popular family based game show Mega Thanga Vettai, the annual Chutti Vikatan Children’s Quiz Show both on Sun TV. Besides, she also essayed a lead role in the television serial Thiruvilayadal on Sun TV.
Kanika’s sweet voice and perfect Tamil pronunciation made possible her venture into playback singing and dubbing. Having a vast experience and being a professional singer before turning actress, Kanika got the offer to sing the theme song of her debut film Five Star.She then turned dubbing artiste, dubbing for actresses Genelia D’Souza in Sachein, Sadha in Anniyan and Shriya Saran in Sivaji: The Boss.