Gautami is an Indian film actress who has worked mainly in Tamil films, although she also appeared in successful films in Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and Kannada cinema. She is also a television actress, television host and known costume designer.
Gautami was born in Nidadavole West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. She made her first appearance at the age of 17 in the Telugu film Dayamayudu, that was produced by her cousin. She was introduced to Tamil films through Guru Shishyan, a film that starred Rajinikanth and Prabhu. She was most active in Tamil cinema from 1987 to 1998 and was a tough competitor to the other heroines of her time, Kushboo and Bhanupriya. Her filmography includes classics like Apoorva Sagodharargal, Raja Chinna Roja, Thevar Magan, Panakkaran, Guru Sishyan, Ooru Vittu Ooru Vanthu, Dharma Durai, Rickshaw Mama as well as Mani Ratnam's Iruvar (1997), which co-starred Mohanlal, Prakash Raj, Aishwarya Rai, Tabu, Nassar and Revathi.
She has acted almost with all the Tamil heroes of her time that includes Rajinikanth, Kamalhassan, Vijayakanth, Prabhu Ganesan, Karthik, Arjun Sarja, Arvind Swamy, Murali, Ramki, Rahman, Sarath Kumar whereas most movies with Sathyaraj and Ramarajan.
She has done several films in Malayalam, notably His Highness Abdulla (starring Mohanlal), Dhruvam (starring Mammootty), and Daddy (opposite Arvind Swamy). Her role in Sukrutham was penned by M. T. Vasudevan Nair.
She has also acted in the Kannada films Elu Suttina Kote, Chikkejamanru and Cheluva, and in the Hindi films Pyar Hua chori chori, Janata ki Adalat, Haiwan, Admi, Appoo Raja, Trimurti, and Dhaal.
She has acted in the Tamil serial Indira in the lead role. She made a guest appearance in the song "Chikku Bukku Railu" with Prabhu Deva in the film Gentleman. She had hosted a talk show in Sun TV titled Anbudan which was launched to compete with Koffee with Anu running on STAR Vijay. She acted in the serial Abirami which was telecast on Kalaignar TV. She made a comeback to the film industry in the late 2000s as a costume designer for films starring her partner Kamal Haasan. She won the Vijay Award for Best Costume Designer for Dasavathaaram. After sixteen years, she returned to acting by starring in the Tamil film Papanasam in which she was paired with her partner Kamal Haasan.
Gautami was married to businessman Sandeep Bhatia in 1998 with whom she has a daughter Subbalakshmi born in 1999. She divorced Sandeep Bhatia in 1999. Since 2005, she and actor Kamal Haasan have been in a live-in relationship. The couple met on the sets of Apoorva Sagodharargal in 1989 and have since remained close friends. She and Kamal have refused to marry each other, citing 'lack of faith in marriage' as the main reason. Gautami was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35, and successfully fought against it.