Beginning his career as an assistant to directors G. Ramakrishnan and Bharathiraja, Bhagyaraj became recognised for his scriptwriting talent. Among his early work was the script for Bharathiraja's films, Kizhakke Pogum Rail (1978) and Tik Tik Tik (1981). He made his directorial debut with the film Suvarillatha Chiththirangal in 1979. He quickly established his own concern and started producing a string of distinctive films made mainly in the Tamil language. Bhagyaraj often stars in lead roles of the films he scripts and directs, effectively carving out a niche for himself in the actor-auteur vein. His style of filmmaking is notable for its relatively elaborate, witty, and double entendre-laced script and socially-themed framework. His on-screen personae are typically characterised by their ironic sense of humour and intelligent bravado.