I was the last of 13 children in my family. When I was around 12, I decided to run away from home in Virudhunagar to find a job in Madras. A woman from a drama troupe took me with her and left me near Mount Road. I wanted to be an army nurse, since I heard that they were hiring those who had done some schooling. But when I went to the recruitment office, I didn't get the job and was really upset.
As I was walking down towards Gemini (the studio was the only landmark in that area then and was behind the present Parsn complex building), a good soul spotted me and took me under her care. I lived with her near the Thousand Lights area and she asked me to get a job in Gemini Studios. I soon joined the studio staff at a salary of Rs.150.
The one thing I will cherish about Madras is that all the actors, directors and drama artists I worked with were affectionate to me. We were a group of girls who were very close. After work, sometimes, we would take a tram to Triplicane and then walk to the beach, which was clean and not crowded.
I moved out of Thousand Lights area and four of us rented a house and hired a cook. We would travel mainly by tram. You would see boys running behind it and then footboarding on it all the time. Buses weren't popular, but hand-rickshaws were common. You could even hire them on a monthly basis; at about Rs. 20 to Rs. 30.
Theatre flourished and there were many troupes that did well. Plays were major crowd pullers. For about two decades, I worked with N.S. Krishnan's troupe and then joined S.V. Sahasranamam's company. People recognised me as a good performer and offers for films came my way.
In 1959, I bought my first home in Royapettah on Pachaiappan Nayakkan Road. Three years later, I bought my first car, a Morris Eight. I would drive to theatres and studios.
There were about 15 studios in Kodambakkam itself and most of my films were shot there. Chitra Talkies, Shanti and Gaiety theatres were those I frequented.