Chhaya Devi was born in Bhopalpur Rajbari in the year 1921 in a very educated and aristocrat family. Her father was Haradhan Gangopadhay. Chhaya Devi was known as “Kanak” in her childhood. Chhaya Devi started her primary education in Mikkhoda Girls School of Bhopalpur. Then her father shifted to Delhi. There she was adimitted in the Indraprastha Girls School. As per her family regulations she was married to Buddhadeb Chattopadhay at the age of only 11. Mr. Chattopadhay was a lecturer of a college in Ranchi. But this marriage did not last very long. She came to Kolkata with her father, when she was a student of tenth standard.
In Kolkata she started taking lessons in music from legendary singer Krishna Chandra Dey. She was introduced to Upen Goswami of East India Film Company by her cousin Suresh Chandra. Suresh Chandra was a theatre enthusiast and a close friend to Upen Goswami. East India Film Company engaged Chhaya Devi for their film “Pather Seshe” in lien of a low remuneration of Rs. 750/-. There after Debaki Basu gave her a chance in “Sonar Sangsar”. This film was released in the year 1936 and it brought fame to Chhaya Devi. She then acted in films like “Rajani”, “Chhinna Haar”, “Pratisodh” and Devika Basu directed Hindi film “Bidyapati”. Suddenly she left film acting and went back to Bhopalpur. There she started taking lessons on classical music from Damodar Mishra. She used to sing Khayal and Thumri from Radioo Station. She learnt classical dancing from Shanku Maharaj and Bela Aruab. After few years on request of director Sushil Majumdar and others Chhaya Devi again returned to the film industry. She acted in “Abhayer Biye”. She also sang a few songs in that film.She acted on multi-version (Bengali-Hindi-Tamil) film “Ratnadwip”. Apart from Bengali films she simultaneously acted in many Hindi films in this second phase. Her remarkable films were “Dada Thakur”, “Raja Ram Mohon”, “Arogyo Niketan”, “Sapta Padi”, “Apanjan” etc.