Rai then the Jai Hind College at Churchgate for one year and then moved to Ruparel College in Matunga to complete their HSC studies. She can communicate in several languages, including her native language Tulu and Hindi, English, Marathi and Tamil.
While pursuing his studies in architecture, Rai began modeling on the side. In 1994 Miss India contest, she won second place behind Sushmita Sen, and was crowned Miss India World.
She received another Best Actress nomination for the Filmfare for her performance in the film. In 2004 she starred in Gurinder Chadha in the Bollywood-style English adaptation of Pride and Prejudiceby Jane Austen, Bride and Prejudice with Martin Henderson. In the film portrayed her role as Lalit Bakshi, the film’s counterpart ofElizabeth Bennet in the Austen novel.