A young Saroja Devi was accompanied often by her father to studios and he would patiently tie on her salangais and massage her swollen feet after her dancing stints.
Saroja Devi's debut movie and also her first major success was Honnappa Bhagavatar's Kannada film Mahakavi Kalidasa (1955), in which she played a supporting role. Ramachandran (MGR), who cast her as the female lead in Nadodi Mannan (1958), the movie that made her one of the most popular actresses in Tamil Nadu.
In the 1960s, Saroja Devi became a fashion icon among the South Indian women, who mimicked her saris, blouses, jewellery, hairstyles and mannerisms.
In particular, her saris and jewellery from the Tamil movies Enga Veettu Pillai (1965) and Anbe Vaa (1966) were popularized widely in magazines.
In 1962 she was crowned "Chaturbhaasha Taare", because of her popularity in these four languages.