Deva was born to M. C. Chokkalingam and M. C. Krishnaveni. He started learning classical music under Dhanraj and completed a course in Western music at Trinity College of Music in London. His son Srikanth Deva is also a music director, as are his brothers, who have formed the duo Sabesh-Murali. His nephew Jai is an actor. His first film, Manasukketha Maharasa, was released in 1989. He was then called to work on the movie Vaigasi Poranthachu. So far he has composed music for more than 400 films, which include Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films. He is also famous for his compositions for religious films. He was widely acclaimed for his scores for Rajinikanth starrer Basha. His other famous compositions include Annamalai and Baasha, both starring Super Star Rajnikanth. The veteran music director M.S.Viswanathan has conferred upon Deva the most suitably coined title, "Thenisai Thentral". In Kannada, he composed music for many blockbuster films. All the songs in the 1997 super hit film Amrutha Varshini. He has composed songs for many block buster hit films starring South Super Star Dr. Vishnuvardhan, a star of 220 movies in five different languages. The films Kotigobba, Simhadriya Simha, Raja Narasimha, Kadamba, Vishnu Sena were all the films in their combination.