Avinash was born in the town of Yelandur in Mysore district (now in Chamarajanagar district), in the Mysore State (now Karnataka), to Indira and B. K. Narayana Rao, a lawyer. After completing his education at Mysore's Hardwicke High School, Avinash went on attend University of Mysore where he obtained his master's degree in English literature. Drawn to theatre and cinema from a very young age, he had a very active theater life at Mysore and later at Bangalore. During the time, he taught English at the National Institute of Engineering, Mysore, and later at the MES college in Bangalore.
His first job after his M.Phil was that of an English lecturer in National Institute of Engineering, Mysore. He continued to teach at MES College Bangalore as one of the most popular lecturers of the college. However, very soon his passion for Theatre took him abroad to train in acting to Mermaid theatre, London. On returning home, he worked in Kannada theatre as part of the renowned B Jayashree's troupe "Spandana" and with the artistic genius Shankar Nag as part of his famed "Sanketh" for many years.
Films were a natural choice for Avinash after his debut in the National award winning GV Iyer's "Madhvacharya" based on the life & times of the 12th century enlightened master as the protagonist Saint Madhva, a film that won several national & State awards. His debut in mainstream cinema however, was with Shivarajkumar's 'Samyuktha' which went in to become a huge hit among the masses thus ushering him into the world of South Indian cinema. Since then, he has since acted in over 400 films in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and English in a career spanning nearly three decades. K.Balachander, Girish Kasaravalli, T. N. Seetharam, AR Murugadoss, Puri Jagannadh, P.Vasu, Vetri Maran, Suseedran, Yograj Bhat, Suri, Gautham Menon, T. S. Nagabharana, (each of whom have won several national awards & achieved an iconic status as technicians)are among the over 200 directors he has worked with.
As an actor Avinash's memorable roles to date are Girish Kasarvalli's National award winning Dweepa where he played the protagonist opposite actress Soundarya, TS Nagabharana's National award winning Chinnari Muththa, Chiguridha kanasu & Singarrevva, TN Seetaram's National Award winning Mathadana and many more. P.Vasu's super-hit series Chandramukhi, Apta Mitra & Aptarakshaka were high points in his career and have fetched him several national, state & popular awards. '5Ters', an experimental (Computer graphics)children's film in Hindi gave him the opportunity of playing 'Good & Evil' characters and he considers the film to be another high point in his career.
Apart from his diverse repertoire, he has had the privilege of playing major roles alongside doyens such as Rajkumar, Rajnikanth, Mammotty, Vishnuvardhan, Stars such as Nagarjun, Venkatesh, Shivarajkumar, Vijay, Vikram, Ajith, and also including today's stars like Puneeth Rajkumar, Surya, Karthi, Arya, Siddharth, Mahesh Babu and several of the younger stars of South Indian Cinema.
Avinash married Malavika, who was his co-star in the soap opera Mayamruga, in 2001. They have a son together, Gaalav.
- Karnataka State Award for Best Supporting actor for Mathadana
- Filmfare award for Best Supporting actor for Aptharakshaka
- Jury's special mention for Dweepa, Singarevva
- South Indian cinematographers association award for Best Supporting actor for Matadana
- Film Fans' Association award for Best Supporting Actor for Matadana, Dweepa
- SIFA award for Best Supporting Actor for Aptarakshaka
- Udaya TV award for excellence in cinema
- Suvarna TV award for Prithvi
- Aryabhata Award for Best Actor for TV series Shikari
- Rajyotsava Award of the Karnataka State Govt
- Kempegowda Award of the BBMP
Avinash is the Founder member of Sneha Loka, a club to promote sporting activity among the film fraternity. He is also a former member of the Executive committee of the Kannada Film Artists Association.