K. V. Anand was born in Chennai, India to Venkatesan and Anasuya Venkataraman. His childhood days were spent in Pulicat. He graduated with Bachelor's degree in Physics from DG Vaishnav College in June 1986 followed by Master's degree in Visual Communications from Loyola College, Chennai. During his college days Anand participated in annual trekking expeditions in the Himalayas. His exploratory trips to various remote locations in India triggered his passion for photography. Anand participated in inter-collegiate, state and national level photography contests. His visual images earned him numerous photography awards.
Anand worked as a freelance photo journalist for leading newspapers and magazines such as Kalki, India Today, Illustrated Weekly, Aside and other national publications. Within a short period of time, his photos were published in more than 200 magazine covers and had taken photos of 10 Chief Ministers in close quarters. Anand continued to freelance in industrial photography, advertisements and cover pages for fictional Tamil novels.
Anand applied for a full-time position as a photo journalist for India Today, a leading publication group in India, but failed to get the job offer. Anand, disappointed, left to Andaman Islands for a month. During this wilderness trip, Anand decided to transition from photo journalism to cinematography.
Anand met cinematographer P. C. Sreeram and expressed his interest to work for him as an assistant. He joined him, serving as an apprentice for Sreeram's film such as Gopura Vasalile, Amaran, Meera, Devar Magan and Thiruda Thiruda. Actually, he joined as the sixth assistant to Sreeram when Jeeva, another prominent figure in cinematography was the first assistant to Sreeram. When director Priyadarshan had approached P. C. Sreeram to work on his Malayalam film, Thenmavin Kombath (1994), he was unavailable and thus recommended Anand to be given the opportunity. The film received positive reviews and Anand won the National Film Award for Best Cinematography for his debut venture, with the award committee noting he showed "outstanding cinematography executed with sincerity, imagination and flexibility". Anand's first Tamil film was the romantic drama Kadhal Desam (1996), which also won critical acclaim for showcasing Chennai in a futuristic mould. He also then teamed up with director Shankar for the production of the political thriller Mudhalvan (2000), winning appreciation for his experimental camera ramping and the general grandeur.
Anand has wielded the camera for 14 films in languages including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. His final work as a cinematographer came with Sivaji (2007), the Rajinikanth-starrer directed by Shankar, the most expensive Tamil film ever made at the time of release.
He then turned a film director with Kana Kandaen (2005). The film, penned by novelist duo Suba and starring Srikant, Gopika, Prithviraj, received favorable reviews from critics and was a success. While searching for a theme for his second film, Anand recalled a time where he had a harrowing time waiting for clearance at customs, during a visit to Singapore. He was keen to explore how smugglers transported drugs and thus found himself researching it methodically; meeting custom officials, retired smugglers and drug peddling hubs in Chennai. Subsequently, he began work on Ayan (2009), an action entertainer set on the backdrop of the Indo-African drug smuggling trade, with Suriya and Tamannaah in the lead roles. The film opened in April 2009 to positive review, en route to becoming a blockbuster success and the year's highest-grossing Tamil language film.
In 2011, his third directorial Ko, starring Jiiva, Ajmal Ameer and Karthika Nair released to very positive response from media and public. One of the critics neatly summarized it by saying "For an audience numbed by predictable Kollywood potboilers week after week, here is an original offering from KV Anand, a fearless filmmaker who doesn't insult your intelligence. He is able to cater to the needs of both the elite as well as mass audiences, which should be applauded." Anand's fourth directorial venture saw his collaborate with Suriya again in Maattrraan (2012), and was inspired to make the film after watching a documentary about the conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker. While preparing the script, he worked closely with a team of doctors to ensure the medical condition of open-heart transplant, as shown in the film, could be showcased as realistic as possible. However, the movie opened to mixed reviews from the critics and became a success at the box office. His fifth directorial Anegan (2015) starring Dhanush, Amyra Dastur and Karthik in the leading roles was released on 13 February 2015 to positive reviews and became a commercial success. Later he planned to make a script for Vijay by the same for Dulquer Salman. Moreover, the project has been delayed he planned to make a script for Kamal Hassan after his forthcoming venture of Vijay Sethupathi starrer project Kavan (2017).
K. V. Anand has collaborated with composer Harris Jayaraj, editor Anthony and script writers Subha for several of his ventures, describing them as "constant fixtures". While noting he shares a good rapport with Jayaraj, he has stated that Anthony is like his "alter ego" and "his biggest critic", with the pair often working closely during the post-production stages of films. He met the writer duo Suresh and Bala of Subha, during his stint as a photo journalist with the magazine, India Today. Despite being a cinematographer himself, K. V. Anand opts not to wield the camera for his own ventures and has actively tried to select different cinematographers for each of his projects, like Soundararajan. S, M. S. Prabhu, Richard M. Nathan, Om Prakash and Abhinandan Ramanujam.
During the script-writing process, Anand often finishes up to six drafts, though mentions he rarely "locks his script", suggesting it is always open to changes for improvisations on the shooting spot. He often rephrases dialogues; and sometimes has invented titles during the drafting process, being constantly on the lookout for short and crisp titles. His titles are usually in Chaste Tamil, such as Ayan, Ko, Anegan and Kavan.