She was born in a Hindu Saliya community on September 19, 1984 in the village of Nileshwaram in Kasargod district, Kerala, India, to P. Madhavan and Shyamala. She attended Nileswaram GLP School and entered the film industry as a child artist. She learned dancing during her school days and participated in competitions. She was a Kalathilakam in a Sub District Schools Youth Festival.
She first appeared as a child in Kamal’s film Pookkalam Varavayi (1991). Her talent was soon recognized, and she was offered other projects such as Pavam IA Ivachan (1994) and Azhakiya Ravanan (1996). When she was in ninth standard, she got an offer to play as a heroine in Lal Jose’s film Chandranudikkunna Dikhil, which became a super hit. After her leading role, she became popular in the Malayalam film industry. It has been claimed that she was the busiest female actress in Malayalam. She and Dileep are sometimes referred to as the Golden pair. The Dileep-Kavya pairing has produced several big hits, including Chandranudikkunna Dikhil (1999) and Meesa Madhavan (2002). In 2010 the pair acted in the film Pappy Appacha. Kavya’s films include Mizhi Randilum, Dhosth, Madhuranombarakattu, Sadanandante Samayam and Meesa Madhavan, of which the last movie earned record collections in the Malayalam film industry. Her other films include Chakkara Muthu, Iruvattam Manavatti, Annorikkal, Kochi Rajavu, Aparichithan, Perumazhakkalam, Gowrisankaram, Runway, Athisayan, Thilakkam and many more. She has acted in a few Tamil films; Kasi was her first film in Tamil that performed well at the box office. She has also acted in some more Tamil films, En Mana Vaanil and Sadhu Miranda. She has acted with various superstars in the Malayalam industry including Mohanlal, Mammootty, Jayaram, Suresh Gopi and Dileep. She also wrote lyric for the song ‘En Khalbillulloru Pennaanu’ for the film One Way Ticket.
She was married to Nishal Chandra on February 5, 2009 at Kollur Mookambika Temple. After the marriage she went to Kuwait to stay with her husband. However, she returned home in June the same year and did not go back thereafter. She filed a divorce petition with the Family Court at Ernakulam on July 24, 2010. Kavya and Nishal had appeared before the Ernakulam Family Court on May 25, 2011 and expressed their willingness, for a mutual divorce. She was granted divorce by court on May 30, 2011.