Saroja Devi remains the only Indian Film Heroine to do 154 films as the main lead heroine in just a span of 23 years from 1955-1978.She holds the world record for being the actress with most number of consecutive films as the lead heroine -161 films from 1955-1984, without playing supporting roles.
Saroja thought of retiring from films after completing the films she had signed before her scheduled marriage in 1967 and not do any films from 1968.But when she in 1969 came to attend premier of Aradhana to Mumbai, she was advised by MGR and Dilip Kumar to continue acting in films as she had ability to do well at least for another 12 years as an actress. Saroja acted as lead female heroine until 1985.
Thaya Katha Thanayan opposite MGR was her 62nd film since her debut in 1955. It's a world record for appearing in 62 films as female lead heroine within 8 years.
Sri Renukadevi Mahathme, Kannada film released in 1977 was Saroja Devi's 150th film in her career.
She did 161 films as the main female lead heroine from 1955-1984: she had minimum one film releasing every year from 1955-1978 with her as the main lead heroine. Of these 161 films, 147 were certified box office hits.
Saroja Devi is the Indian film heroine with the longest career as the main lead female heroine in Indian films - 29 years from 1955-1984.
Of her 190 films between 1955 to 2015, 165 were box office hits.
She acted in films such as Sri Renukadevi Mahathme, Gunavanthudu (1975), Katha Sangama (1976), Shani Prabhava and Katha Sangama. She won accolades from critics in films opposite Dr. Rajkumar in Kannada for her performances in Mallammana Pavada (1969), Nyayave Devaru(1971), Sri Srinivasa Kalyana (1974), Babruvahana (1977), Bhagyavantharu (1977) and with Vishnuvardhan in Shani Prabhava (1977) and Rudranaga (1984), Ugra Naagu (1985) and in other films like Thande Makkalu (1971), Papa Punya (1971), Chiranjeevi etc.(from 1971-1984).
She formed popular on screen pair with NTR in Telugu films with Daagudumootalu, Uma Chandi Gowri Sankarula Katha (1968), Bhagyachakram (1968), Vijayam Manade (1970), Dagudu Moothalu, Shakuntala, Bahagyachakram, Mayani Mamatha (1970) and Daana Veera Soora Karna (1979).
Her father Bhairappa worked for the police department, and her mother Rudramma was a homemaker. Saroja Devi was their fourth daughter.Her grandfather, Mayanna Gowda wanted her to be given away the child for adoption, but her father refused to do so. Bhairappa asked her to learn dancing, and encouraged her to take up acting as a career. A young Saroja Devi was often chaperoned to studios by him. He would patiently tie on her salangais, often massaging swollen feet after her dancing stints.
MGR Saroja Devi established a popular on screen pair and had back to back super-hits from 1958-1966. The pair who began with Naadodi Mannan, went on to give do 27 hit films together,the most popular being Thirudathey, Thai Sollai Thattathey, Paasam,Thaayaikaatha Thanayan, Asai Mugam, Periya Idathu Penn, Dharmam Thalaikkakkum, Neethikku Pin Pasam, Pannakkara Kudumbam,Padakoti, Nadodi, Thali Bhagyam, Naan Anayittaal, Petralthaan Pillaiya, Arasa Katalai and Kudumba Thalaivan. Her best performances opposite MGR were the 'rich girl' roles in Anbe Vaa, Enga Veettu Pillai, En Kadamai, Deiva Thai,Kalangarai Vilakkam, Pana Thottam, Parrakkum Pavai and Thayin Madiyil.
Saroja Devi also achieved success in Telugu films, starring opposite N. T. Rama Rao in Seetarama Kalyanam (1961) and Jagadeka Veeruni Katha (1961), and Daagudu Moothalu (1964). Amara Shilpi Jakkanna (1964, remake of Kannada film) and Rahasyam, her films with Akkineni Nageswara Rao like Pelli Kaanuka(1960), Telugu films Intiki Deepam Illale, while her hits in Hindi films included Paigham (1959), Sasural (1960), Opera House (1961), Pareeksha, Hong Kong(1962), Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya(1963).
She was cast always opposite the much high in demand stars of respective film industries: Dr. Rajkumar in Kannada, NTR, ANR in Telugu, MGR, Sivaji Ganeshan, Gemini Ganesan, S.S.Rajendran in Tamil, Ashok Kumar, Shammi Kapoor in Hindi. Saroja chose to do more films in Tamil in the period 1958-1969 and after her marriage she was more active in Kannada and Telugu films from (1970-1984).
She was cast with young heroes like Ravichandran in Odum Nadhi (1969), Snegithi (1970), and Swargathil Thirumanam(1974). With R. Muthuraman, she starred in Uyir (1971) and Pathu Matha Bandham (1974), which was her last Tamil film as a lead actor.
She became the number one female lead actress of the period 1959-65 in Tamil films and was the second highest paid actress in Tamil films from 1966 to 1974.
In an interview she said 'Thirudadhe' was my first film with MGR. As the shooting got delayed, he introduced me in Naadodi Mannan, which was released before 'Thirudathe'. She was then signed up for the Hindi film Paigham (1959), in which her co-stars included Dilip Kumar. She never allowed any one to dub for her and insisted that she would speak by herself as a result none of her Tamil movies her voice was dubbed by any other artiste since the beginning of her career. Then she gave hits opposite Gemini Ganesan in Manalane Mangayin Bhagyam, Kalyana Parisu, Ode Velaiyadu papa, Kairasi and opposite Sivaji Ganeshan in Bhaaga Pirivinai,Vidi Velli,Palum Pazhamum, Iruvar Ullam (1958 till 1960).
She is the Indian film heroine with the longest career as the main lead female heroine in Indian films - 29 years from 1955-1984.She had 147 films as box office success of these 161 as the main female lead.
Saroja Devi signed up for the film Ladies Hostel in 1985, but stopped shooting after her husband fell ill. He subsequently died in 1986, and she resumed shooting only in 1987. The film was successful, but Saroja Devi refused to sign up for any more films. She completed the 8 films that she had accepted before 1986, and these films were released during 1987-1990. These included Thaimel Aanai (1988) and Dharma Devan (1989).
Saroja Devi's energetic performance as a patriotic queen raging against the British in Kannada flick Kittooru Rani Chennamma, which won the national award for Best Film in 1963, brought her much acclaim.
Sri Renukadevi Mahathme, Kannada film released in 1977 was Saroja Devi's 150th film in her career and by 1984, she had completed 161 films as the main lead heroine, without ever playing supporting roles. Yarivanu, in Kannada, was the 161st film, in which she played the main lead heroine.
Her mother gave her a strict dress code: no swimsuits and no sleeveless blouses, which she followed for rest of her career.
At the age of 14, Saroja Devi got her big break in the Kannada film Mahakavi Kalidasa (1955). In Telugu cinema, she made her debut with Panduranga Mahatyam (1959). The Tamil film Nadodi Mannan (1958) made her one of the top actresses in Tamil cinema. She also starred in Hindi films until the mid-1960s, starting with Paigham (1959).
From 1967,she was the highest paid actress in Kannada and Telugu films from 1968-1980 and was more active in Kannada films in seventies and her career as the Tamil film heroine started to decline.