Born in Delhi and raised in Kolkata, Basu won the Godrej Cinthol Supermodel contest in 1996, and later pursued a successful career as a fashion model. She then began receiving offers for film roles, and made her acting debut with a negative role in the moderately successful thriller Ajnabee (2001), which won her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. Basu's first leading role was in the blockbuster horror film Raaz (2002), which earned her a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. She subsequently received world wide critical recognition and several awards for her portrayals of a seductress in the 2003 erotic thriller Jism and the 2006 drama Corporate. Basu achieved further success with starring roles in six of India's annually top-grossing productions—the comedies No Entry (2005), Phir Hera Pheri (2006), and All the Best: Fun Begins (2009), the action adventure Dhoom 2 (2006), the action thriller Race (2008) and the horror thriller Raaz 3D (2012). She also received praise for her performances in the romantic comedy Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), and the horror films Aatma (2013), Creature 3D (2014) and Alone (2015). Her other notable work includes item numbers in several films.
In addition to acting in films, Basu is a fitness enthusiast and has featured in several fitness videos. She is a prominent celebrity endorser for brands and products, and is vocal about issues such as feminism and animal rights. Following a high-profile relationship with actor John Abraham, Basu married actor Karan Singh Grover in 2016.
Bipasha Basu was born on 7 January 1979 to a Bengali family in Delhi. Her father, Hirak, is a civil engineer, and her mother, Mamta, is a homemaker. She has one elder sister, Bidisha, and one younger sister, Vijayeta. According to Basu, her name means "dark deep desire", and is also a river's name. She added "Due to my dusky skin, I was considered ugly in my younger years."
In Delhi, Basu lived at Pamposh Enclave, Nehru Place, till the age of eight and studied at Apeejay High School. Her family then shifted to Kolkata, where she attended Bhavan's Gangabux Kanoria Vidyamandir, located in Bidhannagar. In her school, Basu was appointed as the head girl and was fondly called 'Lady Goonda' due to her short and commanding personality. She remarked "As a child, I was a tomboy and I was pampered a lot, due to which I became very naughty. I used to keep a stick in my hand and straighten out all the colony boys if they acted smart. I used to be very short as a child and I was the monitor in school. When the tall boys would be up to mischief, I'd jump on their back during breaks and pull their hair and beat them up". Basu was enrolled in medical science studies until twelfth standard, but switched to commerce thereafter.
In 1996, Basu was spotted at a hotel in Kolkata by the model Mehr Jesia Rampal, who suggested she take up modelling. That year, she participated in and eventually won the Godrej Cinthol Supermodel Contest (organised by Ford), thereby representing India at Ford Models Supermodel of the World contest in Miami. She later appeared in the Calida commercial with her then-boyfriend Dino Morea, which was controversial for picturing them sultrily; she had some protesters outside her house after that. With appearance on several magazine covers, Basu continued to pursue a career in fashion modeling during her late teens, until she became an actress.
One of the judges of the Godrej Cinthol Supermodel Contest in which Basu participated, Vinod Khanna, wanted to launch her alongside his son Akshaye Khanna in Himalay Putra, but she felt she was too young and declined the role, which eventually went to Anjala Zaveri. After returning home, she was convinced by Jaya Bachchan to star opposite her son Abhishek Bachchan in J. P. Dutta's Aakhari Mughal. However, the film was cancelled, and Dutta instead changed the script and made Refugee with Kareena Kapoor. Basu was also offered a role in Refugee opposite Sunil Shetty, which she declined.
In 2001, Basu finally made her debut opposite Akshay Kumar in Vijay Galani's Ajnabee. The film, directed by Abbas-Mustan, was inspired by the American film Consenting Adults. It was a moderate box-office success and attracted unfavorable reviews from critics. However, Basu's performance in a negative role was appreciated by critics and won her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut.
In 2002, Basu starred in the year's most successful thriller, Raaz. Directed by Vikram Bhatt, it established Basu in the Hindi film industry. Her portrayal of a woman who is pursued by a spirit received positive reviews. One review in The Tribune noted, "... it is Bipasha Basu who steals the show with her fine performance." She was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for Raaz. She was appreciated in a supporting role in Sanjay Gadhvi's Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, a moderate critical and commercial success. However, in David Dhawan's Chor Machaaye Shor, was her first commercial failure. She appeared in a supporting role opposite Mahesh Babu and Lisa Ray in the Telugu film, Takkari Donga. Gunaah, which released later that year, was also a box-office failure. She played the role of a cop who loves a convict and tries to reform him. Derek Elley of Variety observed that Basu was a miscast as the "idealistic cop".
In 2003, Basu starred in Pooja Bhatt's erotic thriller film, Jism alongside John Abraham, which was well received by critics and fared well at the box office. She played the role of seductive, ambitious wife of a millionaire who indulges in an extramarital affair with an alcoholic lawyer and plots to kill her husband. The film ranked 92 in the top 100 sexiest movie scenes poll conducted by Channel 4. Film critic Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama commented, "... the real show stealer is Bipasha Basu; her sexy look and seductive deep voice, in contrast with her cold and calculating personality, makes her the most impressive femme fatale since Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi." She received a Filmfare Best Villain Award nomination for Jism. Her next release, Zameen, failed to make impact among audiences.
Basu had four releases in 2004, all of which performed moderately and drew mixed reviews. She collaborated for the second time with Vikram Bhatt in her first release Aetbaar. She played the role of a young woman who falls in love with a psychopath. Rediff.com noted that "... The characters are not convincing, the plot is not fast-paced or interesting." Her next film was Mani Shankar's Rudraksh, based on the Indian epic Ramayana. The film was a disaster at the box office and was panned by the critics. She then starred in Rakht as a tarot card reader trying to solve a murder mystery. Critic Shruti Bhasin of Planetbollywood wrote, "Bipasha Basu impresses in a different look and role." Her final release that year was Anil Sharma's Madhoshi opposite John Abraham. Her performance of a mentally unstable woman was generally well received.
In 2005, she appeared in the love triangle Barsaat alongside Bobby Deol and Priyanka Chopra. Taran Adarsh commented, "As an actor, she [Bipasha Basu] does show sparks only towards the end." She starred in the Tamil film, Sachein, which was a hit and then in Prakash Jha's Apaharan, which won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay. In this period, she refused to act in art films due to salary problems.
Besides acting, Basu did the video "Tu" for Sonu Nigam's album, Kismat. She made a guest appearance in Jay Sean's music video "Stolen".
Basu established herself as an actress with the success of No Entry, Corporate and Dhoom 2. No Entry grossed 750 million at the box office and was the highest-grossing film of 2005. Basu played the role of a bargirl who acts as wife of two men. She earned a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination for the film. 2006 saw her star in four major releases — Phir Hera Pheri, Corporate, Omkara and Dhoom 2 — performing well critically and commercially. Phir Hera Pheri became the ninth highest-grossing film of the year. She was featured opposite Akshay Kumar in a significant role of a con woman who steals 10 million from the protagonists. In Madhur Bhandarkar's Corporate, she gave up her glamorous look for the role of a businesswoman who has no qualms in taking advantage of her sexuality to con the CEO of a rival company. She won accolades from critics for her performance. Critic Aparna wrote, "[...] she has done a fabulous job as an ambitious woman. The kind of shrewdness in a woman that she plays has never been seen before in India films." She was nominated for the second time for Filmfare Best Actress Award.
In Vishal Bharadwaj's adaptation of Othello, Omkara, Basu played the role of Bianca and was a cameo. She caught the attention of public with her dance number "Beedi", which was highly popular in India and overseas. Critic Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN wrote, "... Bipasha Basu is brought in to lend oomph and she succeeds in doing just that." Basu became the talk of the town for donning a bikini in Aditya Chopra's Dhoom 2. She reportedly ate only oranges for three days and trained hard to shoot the scene. Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India commented, "Aah Bipasha! Looks great, brings back the bikini to Bollywood, and gently slips into the shadows as a pretty accessory."
In 2007, Ronnie Screwvala's Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal performed below average at the box-office. The song picturised on John Abraham and Basu, "Billo Rani", became quite popular and earned her the nickname "Billo Rani", though equal credit must be given to Omkara in which her name was Billo Chamanbahar. In 2008, she teamed up once again with Abbas-Mustan for Race. She played the role of Sonia who is stuck in a love-triangle between two brothers (played by Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna) and, through the course, she murders one of them. The film grossed 680 million at the box office and was the fourth-biggest hit that year in India; it performed good enough overseas as well. Her performance was appreciated by critics with Taran Adarsh citing it as "her best work so far. She's superb." Basu's work in Siddharth Anand's Bachna Ae Haseeno as a successful supermodel who finds it hard to forgive her ex-lover for betraying her earned her a second nomination for Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award and the film was a commercial success with it becoming a "Hit". She completed 2008 by appearing during the song "Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte" in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.
Her first release in 2009, Aa Dekhen Zara failed to do well at the box office. Rohit Shetty's All The Best: Fun Begins performed well and her comic role was appreciated by fans. Later that year, Basu surprised everybody with Rituparno Ghosh's Bengali film, Shob Charitro Kalponik. "I love saris and I'm wearing a lot of them in Ritu's film," she said. She gave up her glamorous look and was praised by critics for her performance. Critic Subhash K. Jha spoke high of her. He said, "Bipasha [Basu] pulls out all stops to deliver her career's best performance. Her moments of anguish before and after her screen-husband's death are expressed in tones of cathartic conviction that we never knew existed within Bipasha." He also compared her with the multiple-award-winning actress, Shabana Azmi, commenting that Basu's anguished portrayal of bereavement can be equalled by Azmi only.
With the 2010 film Pankh, Basu returned as an imaginary character who exists in the protagonist’s mind. She was then featured as a Kashmiri girl in Rahul Dholakia's Lamhaa, which explored socio-political problems in Kashmir. Principal photography of Lamhaa was disrupted many times by the locals due to the controversial theme. During the shooting of Lamhaa, she left the sets at Anantnag and headed back to Mumbai citing she was afraid of the crowd there. Producer Bunty Walia thought of replacing her with Vidya Balan, but she returned for the shoot later with necessary security arrangements. NDTV Movies wrote, "Bipasha sinks herself into her character imparting a dramatic resonance into the role without resorting to stock expressions. The sequence where she gets mauled by militant women is as traumatic to watch as it must have been for Bipasha to shoot." Basu then appeared as the wife of a ruthless cop in Priyadarshan's Aakrosh who helps the police with investigation on honour killings in their village. She met with mixed reviews for the film. Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India commented, "Bipasha actually doesn't have much to do and does seem to be miscast as the much-abused, bruised and battered wife of Paresh Rawal."
Her only release in 2011 was Dum Maaro Dum, which performed reasonably well at the box office and met with good reviews from critics. Talking of the film, she said, "My next release is DMD Dum Maaro Dum, in which I play a lively, colourful, happy-go-lucky girl called Zoey, who is the representation of Goa as we see it." Basu collaborated with Abbas-Mustan for the third time in Players, which became the first release of 2012. The film was an official remake of The Italian Job. Players was heavily compared to The Italian Job and was criticised for its execution and performances, including that of Basu.
Her next release was Raaz 3, a supernatural horror thriller directed by Vikram Bhatt, upon release met with favourable response and emerging as a box office success after a period of relatively low phase for Basu. The movie not only became the highest grossing horror film, but also emerged a "blockbuster" with revenues of ₹730 million (US$11 million) in India alone. Her performance in the film garnered acclaim from critics with Subhash K. Jha of IANS saying, "It's Bipasha who holds together the feverish proceedings. She delivers a full-bodied gutsy performance."
After appearing in a guest appearance in Race 2, where she reprised her role from the prequel, Basu was seen in the horror film Aatma which was directed by Suparn Verma and produced by Kumar Mangat and Abhishek Pathak. She received mixed reviews for the movie. Bipasha performed live alongside Atif Aslam, Shaan & Malaika Arora Khan for the first time in series of concerts in Birmingham & London. in summer 2013.
In 2014 Bipasha Basu was seen on numerous roles in different types of movies. She appeared in Humshakals a movie Directed by Sajid Khan opposite to Saif Ali Khan which was a box office disaster. She even didn't participate in the film's promotions because she was "extremely disturbed by the end result" and stated, "Humshakals was the worst experience of my life." She was also seen in a special 3D movie by Vikram Bhatt produced by Bhushan Kumar titled Creature 3D, which was again a box office failure. Basu has completed work on her first English film, Roland Joffé's epic drama The Lovers in which she will portray a Maratha warrior. The film was released on 13 March 2015. In 2015, Basu featured in Bhushan Patel's romance horror film, Alone opposite her future husband Karan Singh Grover.India TV reviewed the movie Alone when it released and wrote that "With some genuine scary moments and Bipasha-Karan's scorching chemistry, Alone stands apart from numerous horrible horror flicks made in the past." and also stated that "Bipasha just takes her act to another level."
Basu ranked 8 in The Times of India' 50 most desirable women in 2011, ranked 13 in 2012, and ranked 7 in 2013. UK magazine Eastern Eye named her the "Sexiest Woman in Asia" in 2005 and 2007.
Bipasha is few of the actresses who have been in the industry for more than 15 years. She is much notable as she bought sensuality and sexy back in fashion.
Basu is an advocate of physical fitness. Apart from films, in 2010 she released her first fitness DVD called Love Yourself, which emphasised on being strong, healthy, and loving one's self. DVD consisted 60-day routine for weight-loss. She was also the brand ambassador of Sugar Free, which helped her promoting the DVD. Hiren Gada, director of Shemaroo Entertainment said, "A celebrity like Bipasha Basu, genuinely believes in staying healthy. She is also passionate about fitness." She had previously worked on another fitness video called Bollywood Bodies with John Abraham. Basu later launched her second Fitness DVD in September 2011 named Break Free, a 30-minute dance routine, the follow up to Bipasha Basu's first workout video Love Yourself. She is also the face of Delhi Marathon, which has been inspired by her interest in fitness. In January 2014 Bipasha Basu launched her much awaited third of her series fitness DVD Unleash, an advance training routine that includes plyometrics and focuses more on power and speed, while strengthening the bones and improving muscle coordination.
Basu was in a relationship with her Raaz co-star Dino Morea from 1996 till they broke up in 2002. Soon afterwards during the filming of Jism, Basu began to date her co-star John Abraham; they were in a relationship till early 2011 when the couple officially broke off. While together, the two were often referred to as a supercouple in the Indian media.
On 19 February 2014, she confirmed being in a relationship with actor Harman Baweja. In December later that year, she confirmed that they had broken up. In 2015, Basu dated Alone co-star Karan Singh Grover and they got married on 30 April 2016. Celebrities including Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Dino Morea, Bachchan Family, Sanjay Dutt, Sonam Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Sushmita Sen, Bobby Deol, Riteish Deshmukh and Shamita Shetty attended the wedding reception.