Kapoor gained wide recognition for playing a singer in the commercially successful romantic drama Aashiqui 2 (2013), for which she received several accolades including a Filmfare nomination for the Best Actress. The following year, she portrayed a character based on Ophelia in Vishal Bhardwaj's critically acclaimed drama Haider (2014), an adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet. She established herself as one of the high-profile actresses in Bollywood with starring roles in the romantic thriller Ek Villain (2014), the dance drama ABCD 2 (2015) and the action drama Baaghi (2016), all of which rank among her biggest commercial successes.
In addition to acting in films, Kapoor has sung several of her film songs. She is the celebrity endorser for several brands and products, and in 2015, she launched her own line of clothing. She participates in stage shows and concerts. Kapoor features in listings of the most attractive and popular celebrities in India.
Kapoor was born and raised in Mumbai into a mixed ethnic family. On her father's side, Kapoor is of Punjabi descent, and on her mother's side, she is of Marathi ancestry. She has said that, she went through a tomboyish phase as a child and described herself to have a strong attitude for which she was deliberately picking fight with boys.
Kapoor's family members, including her father Shakti Kapoor and mother Shivangi Kapoor, her elder brother Siddhanth Kapoor, her two aunts Padmini Kolhapure and Tejaswini Kolhapure, and her grand-aunts Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. Hailing from a family of actors, Kapoor desired to become an actress since a young age, wearing her parent clothes, she used to rehearse film dialogues and dance in Bollywood songs in front of the mirror. She also accompanied her father to various shooting locations in her childhood, during one of David Dhawan's shoot, Kapoor befriended actor Varun Dhawan to play with him, they were holding a torch pretending it to be a camera while conversing film lines to each other and they were also dancing in Govinda's film songs.
Kapoor did her schooling at Jamnabai Narsee School and at the age of 15, she shifted at the American School of Bombay, where she was schoolmate with actress Athiya Shetty and actor Tiger Shroff. Given in an interview with The Times of India, Shetty revealed that, all of them used to participate in dance competition. Believing herself to be competitive at the age of 17, Kapoor played soccer and handball as she thought these games were challenging. Interviewing by The Hindustan Times in 2016, both Kapoor and Shroff admitted that, they had a crush on each other in school but never proposed to each one.
Kapoor then enrolled in Boston University to major in psychology, but subsequently left her freshman year to appear in her debut film after she was seen on Facebook by producer Ambika Hinduja, who cast her for a role in Teen Patti. In an Interview with the Filmfare magazine, Shakti Kapoor revealed that Kapoor was barely 16 years old, when she was offered her first film by Salman Khan after he was fascinated by one of her school play performances but Kapoor considering herself to be studious rejected the proposal as she was also aspiring to become a psychologist. Kapoor was trained as a singer since her childhood as her maternal grandfather (the cousin of singers Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle), and mother are classical singers.
Kapoor made her acting debut in the 2010 drama Teen Patti alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Ben Kingsley and R. Madhavan. She played the role of a college girl. The film received generally negative reviews though her performance was better received. Preeti Arora writing for Rediff.com stated that "[t]hough a bit raw, she has a lot of potential." Nikhat Kazmi reviewed: "Shraddha Kapoor makes an interesting debut as the edgy youngster who sheds her specs for sleaze, with alacrity." Kapoor was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut, but the film failed to do well at the box-office. After her debut, she signed a three-film deal with Yash Raj Films and featured in their 2011 teen comedy Luv Ka The End with Taaha Shah. Kapoor portrayed the lead role of a teenage student who plots against her boyfriend after he cheats on her. The film underperformed at the box office and received mixed reviews from critics. However, Kapoor's performance received a positive critical reception. Taran Adarsh wrote: ″Shraddha is a revelation, catching you unaware with a confident performance. She's electrifying in the sequence when she breaks down after getting to know the true intentions of her lover.″ Komal Nahta added: ″Shraddha Kapoor does well. She performs very confidently and impresses in her second film.″ For her performance, Kapoor received the Stardust Searchlight Award for Best Actress. Kapoor was subsequently offered the lead female role in Aurangzeb as a part of her deal with Yash Raj Films. However, she signed on to Vishesh Films' Aashiqui 2 instead, thereby cancelling the three-film contract with Yash Raj Films.
In 2013, Kapoor found her breakthrough role in Mohit Suri's romantic musical drama Aashiqui 2, the sequel to the 1990 film Aashiqui. She was cast as Aarohi Keshav Shirke, a small-town bar singer who becomes a successful playback artist with the help of a popular male singer (played by Aditya Roy Kapur). The film was a major box office success with a global revenue of ₹1.09 billion (US$17 million). Film critic Anupama Chopra called Kapoor a "real triumph" and added that her "porcelain face has a haunting vulnerability." However, Vinayak Chakravorty of India Today wrote that she "looks pretty [though] fails to add [...] spark." Kapoor received several nominations in the Best Actress category, including one at the Filmfare Awards. That year, she also appeared in a guest appearance for the romantic comedy Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, playing the fiancée of Imran Khan's character.
Kapoor next reunited with Suri for the thriller Ek Villain (2014), for which she also sang the song "Galliyan". The film tells the story of a hardened criminal (played by Sidharth Malhotra) whose terminally ill wife (played by Kapoor) is brutally murdered by a serial killer. The film was generally perceived to be plagiarised from the Korean film I Saw the Devil, although Suri claimed that it was an original film. In her review, Raedita Tandon of Filmfare called the film a "gritty, engaging thriller", and stated that Kapoor was a revelation in it. The film eventually emerged as a major commercial success with domestic revenues of over ₹1 billion (US$16 million). Her second release that year was Vishal Bhardwaj's critically acclaimed drama Haider, an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet set during the Kashmir conflict of 1995. She played the Ophelia character, a journalist named Arshia, opposite Shahid Kapoor and Tabu. Writing for Deccan Chronicle, critic Kusumita Das praised Kapoor's effort in capturing the varied nuances of her character and noted that her portrayal was "surprisingly composed". Also that year, Kapoor performed an item number in the Karan Johar-produced thriller Ungli.
In 2015, Kapoor starred in a sequel to the dance film ABCD: Any Body Can Dance, entitled ABCD 2, she portrayed the role of a hip pop dancer who competed in an international hip-hop competition alongside her childhood friend Suresh Mukund (essayed by Varun Dhawan). In preparation for her role, she learned different genres of dance form from choreographers Prabhudeva and Remo D'Souza. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the film earned ₹1.57 billion (US$24 million) worldwide to become her highest-grossing release. She began 2016 by featuring as star Tiger Shroff's love interest in the action drama Baaghi, about a pair of rebellious lovers set against the backdrop of a martial arts school. The role required her to practice Kalaripayattu (a martial art originating in the south of India). Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express considered her character in it to be dated, but thought that she played the romantic and action sequences "well enough". Commercially, the film performed very well and collected a total amount of ₹1.26 billion (US$20 million). She then featured in a cameo in Ekta Kapoor's superhero action film A Flying Jatt, where she was seen sharing screen space alongside Tiger Shroff and Gaurav Pandey.
Kapoor final release of the year was the rock musical drama Rock On 2, a sequel to the 2008 critically acclaimed Rock On!!. She was cast alongside Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal and Prachi Desai. Kapoor portrayed the role of Jiah Sharma, an aloof singer and keyboard player, who suffers a hateful and neglectful relationship with her father. A role which required her to be an introvert, she spent a lot of time alone reading books by putting "do not disturb" signs. Kapoor, a classical trained singer who was debuted as a rock singer in the film, was obliged to take vocal training by Samantha Edwards. She then began 2017 in Shaad Ali's directorial romantic drama Ok Jaanu in which was reunited with Aditya Roy Kapur. A remake of Mani Ratnam's Tamil romantic drama O Kadhal Kanmani, the film was produced by Karan Johar under the banner of Dharma Productions. Kapoor, second release was Chetan Bhagat's romantic drama Half Girlfriend where she was seen collaborated again with director Mohit Suri and producer Ekta Kapoor. She portrayed the role of Riya Somani, a rich and attractive girl who fell in love with Madhav Jha played by (Arjun Kapoor), who is a rural boy from Bihar who cannot dialect English easily. The film narrated the alienation and reconciliation they faced in their relationship due to social background. Produced by Balaji Motion Pictures, the film earned over ₹900 million (US$14 million) worldwide.
As from October 2016, Kapoor begins filming for Apoorva Lakhia's Haseena: The Queen of Mumbai, a biopic on terrorist Dawood Ibrahim's sister Haseena Parkar, who ran a crime ring of her own in which she will be seen portraying the title role alongside her brother Siddhanth Kapoor, who is essaying Ibrahim's character.
In addition to acting in films, Kapoor has supported charitable organisations, performed for stage shows and sang in her films. She has also ramp walked the Lakme Fashion Week for various fashion designers and has been the cover model for high-profile magazines such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Verve and many more. Kapoor is the brand ambassador of several products, including Lakmé, Veet, Lipton, Marico's Hair & Care and many others. Bollywood Hungama, named her "one of the most wanted names" in the advertising industry. Later, in March 2015, she launched her own line of clothing for women, named Imara, in association with Amazon.com.
Kapoor established herself as one of the most popular celebrities in India. In 2013, a poll conducted by the Indian edition of FHM ranked her fifth in their listing of the world's sexiest actresses. In 2014, she was placed at the sixth position and the following year she was placed at the second position in McAfee's most searched celebrities poll. Google Trends also noted that Kapoor is one of the most searched Indian actresses between 2014 and 2015. Rediff.com placed her in their listing of the top 10 Bollywood actresses in 2014. Kapoor was placed seventh on The Times of India's listing of the Most Desirable Woman in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, the Indian edition of the International Business Times press positioned her fourth among the top actresses and Rediff.com featured her among the top earners.
In 2016, Forbes magazine featured her as one of the most successful Asians under the age of 30 and the previous year, the Indian edition of the magazine featured her in their annual Celebrity 100 list with a total earning of US$1.3 million per year. Same year, she became the third most followed Indian actress on Instagram with a total number of over 10 millions followers. Establishing herself as one of the commercially successful actresses in Bollywood, Kapoor has also gained recognition for her dressing sense. Various media outlets have praised her sense of style, The Times of India called her a style icon and she was mostly considered for ramp walks by several fashion designers. Also in 2016, she was featured among the highest paid actresses of Bollywood with a total earning of ₹50 million (US$780,000) per film.