Soundarya, was born to industrialist, and Kannada film writer K. S. Satyanarayan in Kolar, Karnataka, India. She discontinued her M.B.B.S., and then married to G. S. Raghu, who is a Software Engineer. She had wide popularity and tremendous goodwill among Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and probably the most successful actress after Savitri in the history of Telugu cinema and is often called "Savitri of modern Telugu cinema".She died in the 2004 aircraft crash, which happened in Bangalore, during an election campaign.
Soundarya's first movie was the Kannada film Gandharva in 1992. Then the same year she acted in the Telugu movie Raithu Bharatham opposite superstar Krishna, directed by Tripuraneni sriprasad alias varaprasad. She made 114 movies, predominantly in Telugu, in a span of twelve years. Telugu actor Venkatesh once described her as "a thorough actress".
In her first hit in Telugu, in 1993, she acted the leading role alongside Rajendra Prasad in Rajendrudu Gajendrudu, directed by S.V.Krishna Reddy. The real commercial recognition came with Hello Brother (1994) in which she starred alongside Nagarjuna and Ramya Krishna. She had an award-winning role in Ammoru, where she played the role of a devotee to Goddess Ammoru. She stood ahead with eleven movie releases in 1995.
Soundarya along with her contemporary Ramya Krishna paved a way for strong performance-oriented roles and led to a change in the characterizations of heroines in Telugu Film Industry.
In 1997, she continued her success with Pelli Chesukundam, Maa Aayana Bangaram, Osi Na Maradala, and Aaro Pranam winning acclaim from all over the industry for her performances. She also starred alongside South Indian superstar Rajinikanth in Arunachalam, which became the highest-grossing film of 1997 in Tamil. Soundarya, apart from good performances and a growing lady fan following, emerged as the golden hand with her continuous successes when her rivals faced constant debacles. This stardom made her come out of the shadow of mainstream heroines and she chose scripts which had a wide potential of performance even alongside big stars which was clearly reflected in her movies.. Though the industry regarded her to be the golden hand, as a former director's daughter, she always regarded the success not as a one-man show but the team work between 36 departments. Soundarya's intensity in performances, expressions, her beautiful face, her lady fan following and phenomenal success were all in common with Savitri, and she was able to earn fame as a replacement to Mahanati Savitri.
Furthermore, the critical success of Chudalani Vundi opposite Chiranjeevi in 1998 made her reach the pinnacle of her career. She also starred along Kamal Hassan in Kaathala Kaathala in Tamil in the same year. Pelli Peetalu and Sri Ramulayya in Telugu and Doni Saagali in Kannada were commercially highly successful. Anthapuram, directed by Krishnavamshi, stood as one of the finest performances of Soundarya in her career, winning her a State Nandi award and also her second consecutive Filmfare Award. The producers and directors realized Soundarya's ability to be a crowd puller and the biggest plus for the promotion of the movie. Her 1999 release Raja, opposite Venkatesh, was another blockbuster and won her her third Filmfare. Her other releases, Padayappa opposite Rajinikanth, Azad opposite Nagarjuna, and Premaku Velayera and Arundathi further solidified her position. In the same year she starred opposite Amitabh Bachchan in Suryavansham, which was one of the only failures of her career, and prevented her from entering into the Bollywood business.
In 2000, she starred in yet another commercial success, Annayya opposite Chiranjeevi, Jayam Manadera and Deviputrudu opposite Venkatesh, Ninne premista opposite Nagarjuna and several others and went on displaying her acting abilities, continuing her successful journey with films like Eduruleni Manishi, Sri manjunatha, Narasimha, Pelli peetalu, Dongata, and Nagadevatha.
She had around 10 film releases each year, most of them in Telugu, from 1993 to 2001, which reflects her path breaking success. After the entry of budding next generation, she slowed down but even later she went on acting seven films each year till 2004. Besides being recognized for her talent, her directors and costars describe her as an honest, grounded and friendly person.
In 2002, she has received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film (producer) for Dweepa. Her last film was the Kannada film Apthamitra, a run away hit with Vishnuvardhan. This film also won her the Filmfare Award for Best Actress posthumously in 2004.
Soundarya acted in the Hindi film, Sooryavansham, alongside Amitabh Bachchan. She was also starred in Tamil super hits, such as Arunachalam, Padayappa alongside Rajinikanth, and Kaadhala Kaadhala alongside Kamal Haasan.She acted in mollywood as female lead in Kilichundan mambhazham with Mohanlal and Sreenivasan.
Soundarya died in an aircraft crash near Bangalore on 17 April 2004 when she was on her way to Karimnagar to campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party and Telugu Desam Party candidate for the upcoming elections. She was pregnant when she died. The aircraft took off at 11:05 a.m. and turned in a westerly direction before crashing on the campus of the Gandhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra of the University of Agricultural Sciences. It had reached only a height of 100 feet before it crashed and burst into flames. B.N. Ganapathi, one of the two persons working on the experimental fields of the university, who rushed to the aircraft to save the occupants, said the plane wobbled before the crash.National Film Awards2003 - National Film Award for Best Feature Film : DweepaKarnataka State Film Awards1998-Best Actress : Doni Saagali2003-Best Actress : DweepaFilmfare Awards South1995 -Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu: Ammoru1998 -Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu: Anthapuram1999 -Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu: Raja2003 -Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Kannada: Dweepa2003 -Filmfare Award for Best Film - Kannada: Dweepa2004 -Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Kannada: Apthamitra (Posthumously awarded)Nandi Awards1994 -Best Actress: Ammoru1996 -Best Actress: Pavithra Bandham1998-Best Actress: Anthapuram