Meenakshi is a Master of Computer Applications (MCA) graduate. While in school, she received several acting offers, which she rejected so that she could concentrate on her studies. After graduation, she agreed to appear in the Tamil film Aasai Aasaiyai. She followed that role with a Telugu film, Tarak, before returning to Tamil with Anbe Anbe, in which she starred alongside Shaam. In all of her Tamil-language films, she was credited as Sharmilee.
In 2004, Meenakshi began acting in Malayalam films. She told an interviewer that “I love to act in more Malayalam films as the characters here have depth and the heroines have much more to do than just look good.” Although she completed work on Kakkakarumban first, her second Malayalam film, horror movie Vellinakshathram, was the first to be released. She was name the 2005 debutante artist by the Kerala Film Critics Association for her work in Kakkakarumban.