Nillanthan lives and works in Yalpanam, Sri Lanka. He is an acclaimed poet having published five collections in Tamil. He is also an artist and a political analyst. A collection of his political essays, Pulikalukku Pinnaraana Arasiyal (Politics After the Tigers), was published in 2016. His artwork (Bunker Family Series, Ravana and Pillaiyar: War Portraits) has been exhibited widely across the sub-continent. Nillanthan was a witness to the final days of the civil war in Sri Lanka.