Shaji Kailas’s debut as a director was in 1989 with News, starring Suresh Gopi in the lead role. Scripted by Jagadish, this investigative thriller was an average grosser. But, with this film, Shaji succeeded in gaining attention of film viewers. But his second release Sunday 7 PM, came out it 1990 was a big flop. Later in the same year, he directed Dr. Pasupathy, a political satire, with Innocent in a leading role. Dr. Pashupathi, written by Renji Panicker, ended up as one of the biggest grosser of the year. This film also marked the beginning of Shaji Kailas- Renji Panicker combo, which later went into making of several super hits. But, the success of Dr.Pashupathy was followed by two huge flops Souhrudam, starring Mukesh and Saikumar in the leading roles and Kilukkampetti, with Jayaram as hero. This time Shaji Kailas realized that comedy was not his cup of tea and decided to switch his track to action films.
In the year 1992, Shaji Kailas got his first real career break. His association with Renji Panicker brought out Thalastaanam, with Suresh Gopi in the leading role. Revolved around student politics, Thalastaanam also marked the rebirth of Renji Panicker as a scriptwriter. This film also marked Suresh Gopi’s first step to super stardom. This film also saw the rise of Narendra Prasad, who later became one of the most acclaimed villains in the Malayalam industry. In the same year Shaji Kailas tried out a comedy flick, Neelakurukkan, which was above average grosser. But in the beginning of 1993, Shaji Kailas landed up again with another blockbuster, Sthalathe Pradhana Payyans, again penned by Renji Panicker. This film turned into a landmark in the career of Jagadish, who until then limited to comic roles. In 1993, Ekalavyan was released. Scripted again by Renji Panicker, Ekalavyan was a feather in Shaji Kailas’ cap. Suresh Gopi got established as an undisputed super star with this political thriller. Produced by P. V. Gangadharan for Grihalakshmi Productions, Ekalavyan also had a back up of a huge star cast including Vijayaraghavan, Siddique, Narendra Prasad, Geetha, Janardanan, Madhu, Devan and Maniyanpilla Raju and completed a run of 150 days in the theaters. In 1993, the Shaji Kailas-Renji Panicker-Suresh Gopi team returned with Mafia, an underworld film completely shot in Bangalore. This film was also a super hit.
In 1994, Commissioner, (again with Suresh Gopi in title role) broke several box office records. This film, like previous Shaji-Renji films, created several controversies in Kerala political circles, prompting various political groups to demand a strict censoring of political films. Later in 1994, Shaji Kailas joined with Ranjith for the first time to bring out Rudraksham. This film starred Suresh Gopi and Annie Shaji Kailas. In spite of the huge initial pull, Rudraksham bombed at box office. It was on the sets of Rudraksham that Shaji Kailas met his future wife Annie. In the year 1995, The King was released, becoming one of the biggest hits in the history of Malayalam cinema and running for 200 days. Again, this was a political thriller written by Renji Panicker, but it starred Mammooty in the lead role. Like Commissioner, The King also evoked sharp criticism from different corners for its sharp language against the political system. This was to be his last film with Renji Panicker. In 1996, Shaji Kailas directed Mahathma, another underworld thriller, again with Suresh Gopi in a lead role. Scripted by T. Damodaran, the film was a flop. In the next year, in 1997, Shaji Kailas again joined with Ranjith for a low-budget action film titled Asuravamsam, with Manoj K. Jayan, Siddique and Biju Menon in leading roles. This film was criticized by many for its extremely violent scenes. Asuravamsam was also an average grosser. In the same year, he again joined with Ranjith to make Aaram Thamburan, a turning point in his film career. In this film, he joined with Mohanlal for the first time. This film was a sensational hit and completed 200 days in theaters. For the first time, Shaji Kailas gave importance to songs. Then came The Truth, in 1998, with Mammooty as hero. It was an investigative thriller, having average success. In 1999, he directed FIR, another action flick with his friend Suresh Gopi as hero. This low-budget film also ended up with average success.
The year 2000 was a something special for Shaji Kailas as he brought out two huge hits in a row. Narasimham, released in the first weeks of the year, with Mohanlal in the lead role swept the box office and create a Mohanlal mania over the state. Scripted by Ranjith, this film was specially tailored for Mohanlal and succeeded in satisfying Lal fans and Narasimham completed 200 days in theaters. Just after the big success of Narasimham, again Shaji Kailas paired with Renjith, but this time it was Mammooty in the leading role. Valliettan, the Onam releas of 2000 also successfully completed 100 days at box office. Following the huge success of these two films, Shaji made his debut in T Tamil film, with Vaanchinathan in (2001). But he failed to create any impact in Tamil as this film starring Vijaykanth, ended as just an average grosser. It was followed by Shivam in 2002, starring Biju Menon, again an average film. In spite of initial pulls, this film performed no magic at the box office. Then came Thandavam, a humiliating fiasco in the career of Shaji Kailas. Though evoked one of the biggest initial pulls in the history of Malayalam cinema, Thandavam ended as a disastrous flop. The shocking setback of Thandavam made Shaji Kailas to take a break from Malayalam cinema for a couple of years. It was at this time, Shaji again tried out his luck in Tamil with Jana in (2004). Despite having Ajith Kumar, in the title role, Jana bombed at the box office. His Telugu debut with Vishnu, starring Vishnu Manchu, was also a commercial disaster. In the year 2004, Shaji Kailas made a comeback in Malayalam with Natturajavu. With Mohanlal in lead role and, scripted by T. A. Shahid, Natturajavu was an average hit. But in the year 2005, Shaji Kailas made a stunning comeback with The Tiger, an investigative thriller starring Suresh Gopi. This film had all the elements of a typical Shaji film, including a huge cast, chase scenes, punch dialogues, political issues and hardcore action, and it became one of the biggest hits of the year 2005. In 2006, Chinthamani Kolacase, another investigation thriller with Suresh Gopi in a leading role, was released and turned into a huge blockbuster. Shaji Kilas appeared to have resumed his winning streak at the box office.
However, his first film with Dileep, The Don, turned into a huge flop in 2006. The next film, Baba Kalyani, starring Mohanlal, was an average hit at box office. But later, Shaji failed to find his rhythm, resulting a series of huge flops in a row. Time in 2007, Alibhai and Sound of Boot in 2008 and Red Chillies in 2009, all ended up ass dead at box office. In January 2010, Shaji Kailas directed Drona 2010, which turned out to be another commercial fiasco. Beginning of 2011 showcased his attempt to reclaim his position within malayalam industry with the sequel of yesteryear mega hit “August 1″, August 15 which garnered heavy negative reviews from critics and audiences alike.
Shaji Kailas got married to Annie on 1 June 1996 at the residence of his close friend Suresh Gopi, in the presence of a few close friends. Annie later adopted the name Chithra. She had earlier acted in his film Rudraksham. They currently reside at Thiruvananthapuram and have three sons.