Basu was born in New Delhi, India, to a Bengali family. She is the second of three daughters to her parents, the elder being Bidisha, and the younger—Vijayeta. Although she was born in New Delhi, her family later moved to Kolkata.
According to her, she had come into modeling and acting quite by accident, because initially she had planned to study medicine. Basu studied science till the 12th standard at Bhavan's Gangabux Kanoria Vidyamandir and later took up commerce at The Bhawanipur Gujarati Education Society College, an undergraduate college affiliated with the University of Calcutta. In Kolkata, she did modelling and rampshows partime. Although, as pointed above, she intended to become a doctor, her aversion for dissections made her opt for chartered accountancy. However, in 1996, she met well-known model Mehr Jessia in Kolkata; the latter suggested that Basu take part in the Godrej Cinthol Supermodel contest. She eventually participated, and won the contest.
After winning the Ford Godrej Cinthol contest, Basu was flown to New York by the Ford Company, where she had a successful modelling career at the age of 17.
Basu made her film debut in Abbas Mustan's Ajnabee, with Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol and Kareena Kapoor. She played a married woman who goes all out to woo her husband’s married friend, and eventually won the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award for her performance.
In 2002, Basu starred in Telugu movie Takkari Donga opposite Tollywood superstar Mahesh Babu and Vikram Bhatt's thriller Raaz. Raaz was a big commercial success and surfaced as the biggest hit of that year. For her performance in the film, she received her first Best Actress nomination at the Filmfare. One review in The Tribune noted, "...it is Bipasha Basu who steals the show with her fine performance." She appeared as Sonia Khanna in the 2003 hit movie Jism alongside current boyfriend John Abraham. The movie earned her a Filmfare Best Villain Award nomination.
Besides acting, Bips, as she is fondly called, did the famous video "Tu" for Sonu Nigam's album, Kismat back in her early days before she became an actress. She also made a guest appearance in Jay Sean's music video Stolen.
In 2008 Basu starred in Race, her second collaboration with duo Abbas Mustan, with whom she debuted in Bollywood. Co-starring Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, the film performed well at the box office, and Basu's performance was appreciated by critics. Taran Adarsh of indiaFM described her performance as "her best work so far. She’s superb". She also received good reviews for her role in Bachna Ae Haseeno opposite Ranbir Kapoor. She completed the year by appearing in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi in the song Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte.
Basu is currently dating actor John Abraham. The couple have been together since late 2002 and they are often referred to as a supercouple in the Indian media. She previously dated fellow Bollywood actor Dino Morea.
In 2006, Basu claimed to have been harassed by certain organizers of the India Day Parade in Edison, New Jersey. Basu was initially scheduled to lead the parade on August 13, 2006. Basu eventually appeared on stage late, according to her, because of the harassment. She said, "I wanted to attend the parade, but I could not." She explained that she was harassed physically and mentally in the car by two people who were taking her to the parade.
In 2005 and 2007, UK magazine Eastern Eye named Basu the "Sexiest Woman in Asia".
|2001||Ajnabee||Sonia/Neeta||Winner, Filmfare Best Female Debut Award|
|2002||Takkari Donga||Panasa||Telugu film|
|Raaz||Sanjana Dhanraj||Nominated, Filmfare Best Actress Award|
|Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai||Ria||Special appearance|
|Chor Machaaye Shor||Ranjita|
|2003||Jism||Sonia Khanna||Nominated, Filmfare Best Villain Award|
|Footpath||Sanjana Rai Shingla Khan|
|Rules: Pyaar Ka Superhit Formula||Special appearance|
|2004||Ishq Hai Tumse||Kushboo|
|Rakht: What If You Can See the Future||Drishti|
|No Entry||Bobby||Nominated, Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award|
|2006||Hum Ko Deewana Kar Gaye||Sonia Berry|
|Darna Zaroori Hai||Varsha|
|Phir Hera Pheri||Anuradha|
|Alag||Special appearance in song Sabse Alag|
|Corporate||Nishigandha Dasgupta||Nominated, Filmfare Best Actress Award|
|Omkara||Billo Chamanbahar||Special appearance|
|Jaane Hoga Kya||Aditi|
|Dhoom 2||ACP Shonali Bose/ |
|2007||Nehlle Pe Dehlla||Pooja|
|No Smoking||Special appearance in song Phoonk De|
|Om Shanti Om||Herself||Special appearance|
|Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal||Rumana|
|Bachna Ae Haseeno||Radhika/Shreya Rathod||Nominated, Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award|
|Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi||Special appearance in song Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte|
|2009||Aa Dekhen Zara||Simi Chatterjee|
|Pankh||Alter-ego of Maradona Rebello|
|All The Best: Fun Begins||Jhanvi Chopra|
|Sob Choritro Kalponik||Radhika||Bengali film|