Aditi Rao was born in Hyderabad. She is half Konkani and half Hyderabadi Muslim. She is the great granddaughter of Sir Akbar Hydari and the grand niece of Sir Muhammad Saleh Akbar Hydari, former Governor of Assam. She started learning Bharatanatyam at age six in 1984 and was a disciple of acclaimed dancer Leela Samson.
Hydari made her acting debut with the 2006 Tamil film Sringaram, in which she enacted the lead character, as a devadasi. The film itself was based on classical dance, being directed by Sharada Ramanathan and produced by Padmini Ravi, two noted bharatanatyam dancers. Hydari was approached and offered the role, after Ramanathan saw her dance performance at a conference for three days. The film received critical acclaim and fetched several accloades, including three National Film Awards. Her first film to release in theatres, however, was the 2006 Malayalam film Prajapathi, in which she starred alongside Mammootty. In 2009, she essayed a supporting role in Delhi-6, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. She has appeared in the film Yeh Saali Zindagi in 2011, and was seen in Bollywood film Rockstar. She has also appeared in Airtel 3G advertisement in April 2011.