Before coming to cinema, Deva worked for some time in the television field. In those days, Deva's brothers were working in the musical troupes of Illayaraja and other music directors as instrumentalists. His first film, Manasukketha Maharasa, was released in 1989. He was then called to work on the movie Vaigasi Poranthachu. After the release of Vaikaasi Poranthaachu, his name became known throughout the Tamil community.
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 the Rajinikanth starrer Basha. His other famous compositions include Annamalai and Baasha, both starring the superstar Rajinikanth.
In 2014, Anirudh Ravichander chose Deva to sing a gaana song in his album Maan Karate and labelled Deva as the "father of the Gaana genre".