He was born to Ratna, a Bollywood junior artiste, and M. B. Shetty, a movie stuntman who acted in Hindi and Kannada films. He has four sisters.
He started his career at the age of 17 as an assistant director with Kuku Kohli during Phool Aur Kaante (Ajay Devgan's debut film that costarred Madhoo). Then he assisted him in Ek Aur Kohinoor, which was never released. He also worked with him on Suhaag (Ajay, Akshay Kumar, Karisma Kapoor), Haqeeqat (1995) (Ajay, Tabu) and Zulmi (Akshay, Twinkle Khanna).
After that, he started working with Anees Bazmee on Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha, followed by Hindustan Ki Kasam and Raju Chacha.
Shetty directed his debut feature film, Zameen, as an independent director with Devgan in 2003 at the age of 30. Zameen did average business at the boxoffice. He rose to fame after he directed the 2006 comedy film, Golmaal: Fun Unlimited starring Devgn, Arshad Warsi, Tusshar Kapoor and Sharman Joshi.
In 2008, he directed his third film, Sunday, starring Devgn, Warsi and Ayesha Takia. Sunday was a comic-thriller. Shetty's second 2008 project, was the sequel to Golmaal, titled Golmaal Returns. The sequel featured most of the original cast, except Sharman Joshi, who was replaced by Shreyas Talpade, and starred Kareena Kapoor. Golmaal Returns. In 2009, he released All the Best: Fun Begins. In 2010, Shetty directed Golmaal 3. Shetty's 2011 Singham also featured Devgn in the title role, as a Police Inspector fighting against corruption. Singham was praised for the action sequences and direction, and Devgn's performance. His next release, Bol Bachchan, is a comedy-drama starring Devgn and Abhishek Bachchan. Bol Bachchan was a commercial success in India.
Shetty's Chennai Express, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone, was released on 9 August 2013. Chennai Express became the highest-grossing Bollywood film in the domestic market. The film earned over US$17.4 million to become the third-highest grossing Bollywood film overseas. The film also set a number of box office records, for the highest opening-day gross, highest paid preview, highest single-day gross, biggest opening weekend, highest opening week and the fastest film to reach ₹100 crore and ₹2 billion in the domestic market.
Shetty has played the judge of the television show Comedy Circus.
Shetty directed Singham Returns with Ajay Devgan, a sequel to his 2011 film Singham. He was also a part of the 5th season of television stunt game show Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi in 2014 as the host taking over from the previous host Akshay Kumar. In 2014, he turned into a producer with Singham Returns, co-producing the film under his banner Rohit Shetty Productions.He reprised his part as host of the 6th season of television stunt game show Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi.Television