Born into Bollywood's legendary Kapoor clan, Karisma made her film debut with Prem Qaidi opposite Harish. She was born on June 25, 1974 to Randhir Kapoor, an actor popular during the 1970s and 80s, and actress Babita. Although she had some success with films like Jigar, Anari, Raja Babu, Coolie No. 1 most of her multiple releases from 1992-1996 failed to do well at the box office, Saajan Chale Sasural and Jeet did moderately well at the box office. In the year 1994 Karisma was romantically involved with Ajay Devgan, but later on the duo decided to parted ways.
In 1996, Kapoor played the female lead in Raja Hindustani opposite Aamir Khan. The movie was a huge blockbuster and she won her first Filmfare Award for the Best Actress. The following year, she won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award and the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Yash Chopra's super-hit, Dil To Pagal Hai opposite Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit.
Karisma took a year long break from films in 1998. After which her diminutive comeback in 1999 proved to be good as she took part in the year's most successful films. She starred in four absolute hits. David Dhawan's comedy Biwi No.1 opposite Salman Khan became the biggest hit of the year. She proved to have success with comedy films, as David Dhawan's other film Haseena Maan Jaayegi did fairly well at the box office. She also collaborated for the first time with the Rajshri Productions banner with Hum Saath-Saath Hai which was also a hit. Jaanwar opposite Akshay Kumar was another box office hit, making her the most successful actress of the year.
In 2000, she again won a Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance in Khalid Mohammed's Fiza. Her performance in the film was much appreciated as she surprised the audiences and the critics showing great emotional range and depth. She also achieved critical acclaim for her role in the film, Zubeidaa, which garnered her the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance. Her performance in Shakti was highly appreciated and earned her many nominations in the Best Actress category. In 2003 she played the leading role in the television series Karishma: A Miracle of Destiny. After her film, Baaz: A Bird In Danger which was released in the same year, she took a sabbatical from full time acting for three years.
In the year 2003, she married industrialist Sanjay Kapur. In the typical Kapoor tradition, Karisma was married at her grandfather, the late Raj Kapoor's residence, R K Cottage. The couple opted for an hour-long Sikh ceremony. They were blessed with a daughter named Samaira. After the birth of Samaira, there was a considerable rift between her and her husband. However, later the couple patched-up.