Goundamani was born as Subramani in Kannampalayam, a village near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. His father is Karuppaiya and mother is Annam (Kaliamma).He is married to Shanthi and has 2 children.
He entered into the Tamil film industry due to his strong theatrical background. He is popular of giving counter to the co- actors during stage performance which garnered him the name " Counter Mani". This in Tamil polyglot became as stage name "Goundamani". Goundamani has played lead roles in a few films during his career, but is predominantly a supporting actor playing comedy roles. While performing roles of a solo comedian in films, he often co-starred with Senthil to form a comedy duo. The pair was described as "Tamil cinema's Laurel and Hardy" and have performed slapstick humour in several Tamil films since the mid-1980s until the early 2000s. After recuperating from diabetes and respiratory illnesses during the late 2000s, he is about to feature in Vaaimai and also play the lead role in 49-O, which began productions in 2013. It is being directed by debutant Arokiadoss, a former assistant of Gautham Vasudev Menon. 
He ran away from his village at the age 13 due to his father's scolding. and first he worked in a oil mart, then a private wine shop as bar attender and then landed up in drama where he started developing his skills. His first film was Ithikkara Pakki (1980). He slowly entered the Tamil film industry in small characters and finally landed a good role in the film Malayoor Mambattiyan. He has acted in many popular films with several of the leading actors and comedians in the south Indian cine industry. He usually appears in films with Goundamani in a slapstick double act. Together they have formed a comic pair in many Tamil films and was known as the Laurel and hardy of Tamil Cinema. Recently, Senthil has started acting in Tamil tele-serials.