Kanaka was a leading Tamil film actress. Her mother Devika was also Tamil film actress. She started her career as the heroine in Karagatakaran (1989), a movie based on the Tamil rural dance form Karagatam, along with Tamil film stars Ramarajan, Goundamani and Senthil.
It was a hit, but her later films never matched its success. Kanaka starred in Adisiya Piravi (1991), but Periya Kudumbum and Samundi were commercial failures. She also starred in few Telugu and Malayalam movies with major stars like Mammootty and Mohanlal. Her Malayalam debut Godfather was an all time hit movie in Kerala, which ran 434 days. In 2004, she married and retired from public life.