Born into a Havyaka Brahmin family in a small village in Karnataka, South India, K.V. Subbanna had his initial education at Sagara and Shimoga. He then went to Mysore to do his B.A.(Hons.) in Kannada Literature at the University of Mysore, where he had such acclaimed teachers as Kuvempu and S.V. Parameshwara Bhatta and U.R. Anantha Murthy as a fellow-student. After his degree he returned to his village to continue his family profession in areca farming. He then took a keen involvement in various aspects of the sociocultural life of his community - the most important of which are the Ninasam institutions (Ninasam, Ninasam Theatre Institute, Ninasam Tirugata and Ninasam Culture Course etc.) and the publishing house Akshara Prakashana, a prominent name in the Kannada language. He has directed several important theatre productions which include classical plays like Mricchakatika, Uurubhanga, Hamlet, modern presentation of folk theatre like Sangyabalya, contemporary plays like Ashad Ka Ek Din, Ghasiram Kotwal, Baka, adaptations of novels like Chomana Dudi and experimental plays like Meghadoota and Loka Shakuntala. His works in Kannada include a collection of poems, several plays, adaptations of several world classics, translation of Dasharoopaka from Sanskrit, An Actor Prepares by Stanislavsky, Interval during politics by Dr. Lohia etc., etc. He received several honours including the Magsaysay Award for journalism, literature and creative communications in 1991.