Tikaram is the son of Fijian-Indian British Army soldier Pramod Tikaram and Sarawakian mother Fatimah Rohani. His younger sister is singer-songwriter Tanita Tikaram. Tikaram is the great-nephew of Sir Moti Tikaram who was the first Lord Chief Justice of an independent Fiji and the world's longest serving national ombudsman.
After attending six primary schools in England and Germany, Tikaram was sent to the Duke of York's Royal Military School in Dover, Kent in 1978. Achieving proficiency in all things military including firearms and the tuba, his early affinity for the theatre was inspired by legendary drama teacher Ben Johnson, himself a former pupil.
After attending the National Youth Theatre in 1982 and after appearing in Tom Stoppard's After Magritte at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1984, Tikaram decided to read an economics and politics degree at the University of London, switching to English at the University of Kent. He gained a first class honours degree in 1990. Ostensibly moving to Dublin to follow in the footsteps of his heroes James Joyce and W.B. Yeats, he ended up writing and recording for Deutsche Schallplatten in Berlin. In 1992 he released an album of songs Chill and Kiss throughout Europe. He returned to acting in 1994, gaining profile for his performances in the film Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love in 1995 and the BBC television series This Life in which he played the character Ferdy.
Tikaram has also enjoyed a varied and successful theatrical career since his portrayal of Judas Iscariot in the 1997 West End production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyceum. His other acclaimed performances include the portrayal of Rama in The National Theatre's 2002 adaptation of The Ramayana, and Gaddafi in Gaddafi:A Living Myth, a dub/punk opera by Asian Dub Foundation, staged by the English National Opera in 2006. Other television credits include Tokaya in the 2005 BBC production Krakatoa - The Last Days, BBC TV's Silent Witness and Immie in Penny Woolcock's film Mischief Night.
Tikaram has three children and lives in London.