Shaji Neelakantan Karun was born on New year day 1952 as the eldest son of Mr N Karunakaran and Mrs Chandramathi Kollam district in Kerala. The family moved to Thiruvananthapuram the capital city of Kerala in 1963. He did his schooling in Palkulangara H S and took a Bachelor's degree from University college Thiruvananthapuram in 1971 he enterd the Film and Television Institute of India where he took his diploma in Cinimatography. He won the President's medal on passing out in 1975. He married to Anasuya Warrier on 1975 Jan 1. 1976 he got and appointment as film officer in the newly formed state Film Development Corporation. Shaji work with notable directors like G Aravindan, K G George and M T Vasudevan Nair as a cinematographer.
Shaji made his directorial debut with the Malayalam film Pravi (The Birth 1988), which won him the prestigious camera award Cannes Film Festival. Piravi was about the grief of a father who loses his son, Shaji's second film Swaham (1994) the film was selected to the compete at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. Vanaprastham (The Final Dance 1999) dealt with the identity crisis faced by an actor Mohanlal played the lead role in this film. He directed the film Nishad made in Hindi which was completed in may 2002, and premiered in the Fukuoka International Film festival held in September 2002 in Japan. His latest film Kutty Sranku with Mammootty playing the lead role
He has also made around a dozen short films and documentaries.Besides making films Shaji Karun has been active as a juror at many international film festivals and an active paticipant in governmental and academic arenas He was the premiere chairman of the Kerala State Chalachithra Acadamy, the first academy for film and TV and India and was also the Executive Chairman of International Film Festival of Kerala from 1998 to 2001