Born into a well to do business family of Thiruvananthapuram in 1952, He went to a boarding school in Ooty at the age of five, where he took up painting. Pratap gained admission to Madras Christian College.His father died when he was 15 Pratap remained friends with those he went to school with at MCC. His friends helped him act in plays at the college and his interest turned to acting from painting. Left MCC with a BA in economics, Pratap worked as a copywriter in an ad agency in Mumbai. After a year, he joined Sistas ad agency. Later he worked in Hindustan Thomson. Pratap acted with the Madras Players. The late director Bharathan enjoyed Pratap's performance in Shaw's play 'Androcles and the Lion', and invited Pratap to act in his Malayalam film 'Aaravam'. Pratap made three more films - 'Thakara' 'Chamaram' and 'Lorry', which are milestones in Malayalam film history. Films like 'Nenjathai Killathe' and 'Panneerpushpangal' moodupani and varumayin niran sigappu made Pratap famous in Tamil also. In fact, he got more chances in Tamil. His most memorable role was probably in 'Varumayin Niram Sivappu', directed by K Balachandar. Pratap began to direct films. His first film 'Meendum Oru Kaathal Kathai' - a story of a mentally unwell couple - won the national award.His former wife Radhika (now married to Sharath Kumar) was also in this movie. Pratap directed three films in Malayalam - 'Rithubetham', which tells the agony of a 'bastard', 'Daisy', which sent a romantic wave throughout Kerala, and 'Oru Yatra Mozhi', which presented a son in search of his unknown father. He also directed a Telugu film - 'Chaithanya'. In the last two years he has been fighting personal battles. After the death of his brother (Hari Pothen, a producer) he became entangled in property disputes, faced death threats and fought an illness. He has said he came back from his deathbed. He traveled around the globe. He lived with a nephew in Europe and has attributed the internet to opening new things up to him. His subtlety as an actor and a director has been his forte. In an era when loud acting and innovations were not in vogue, Prathap teamed up with Kamalhassan in Vetri Vizha. It was the first time that steady cam was used in a Tamil film.