R N Sudarshan was born into a family wherein the majority of members were in the film industry. With a father in veteran actor Nagendra Rao, one brother R N Jayagopal a famous lyricist and the other brother R N Krishna Prasad a famous cinematographer, it was only to be expected that Rattihalli Nagendra Sudarshan too would follow suit. He then went on to become one of the recognised actors of Kannada cinema, though he did appear in other language films such as Tamil, Hindu, Telugu and Malayalam as well.
Born on 2nd May, 1939, in the nearly three decades in the industry, Sudarshan acted in more than 250 films to his credit, essaying a variety of roles and carving a niche for himself, including in villain roles after being a successful lead in over 60 films. He made his debut with Vijayanagarada Veeraputra (1961). He had shifted to doing supporting roles by the 80s. He had also worked as a singer in the 70s. One of his most popular songs was Hoovondu baalibandu in the film Shubhamangala (1975). He was awarded the Dr Rajkumar Lifetime Achievement Award of 2009-10.
R N Sudarshan passed away on 8th September, 2017 in Bangalore.