Das was born in New Delhi to noted Indian painter, Jatin Das, an Oriya Hindu, and a Gujarati Jain mother named Varsha who is a writer.
She went to Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Lodhi Estate in New Delhi. She received her bachelor’s degree in Geography from Miranda House (University of Delhi) and Master of Social Work from the Delhi School of Social Work.
Nandita Das started her acting career with a theatre group called Jana Natya Manch. She taught at the Rishi Valley School.
Das has played storyteller/narrator in the audiobook series for kids “Under the Banyan” by Karadi Tales. She has also been the narrator in the audiobook of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography by Charkha Audiobooks “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”. She has also lent her voice for the children’s series, The Wonder Pets as the Bengal Tiger.
Nandita has acted in films in ten different languages to date: English, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Oriya and Kannada.
In 2008, she completed filming her directorial debut, Firaaq. Firaaq is a work of fiction, based on a thousand true stories and is set a month after the Gujarat carnage in 2002. It is an ensemble film that interweaves multiple stories over a 24 hour period, as the characters from different strata of society, grapple with the lingering effects of violence. The film traces the emotional journeys of ordinary people- some who were victims, some perpetrators and some who chose to watch silently. The film’s stellar cast includes Naseeruddin Shah, Raghubir Yadav, Paresh Rawal, Deepti Naval, Sanjay Suri, Tisca Chopra, Shahana Goswami and Nowaz.
The film won top honours at the Asian Festival of First Films 2008 in Singapore, where it won the awards for “Best Film”, “Screenplay / Script”, and “Foreign Correspondents Assn. Purple Orchid Award for Best Film”. The film has also won awards at other international film festivals, including the Special Prize award at the International Thessaloniki Film Festival in Greece, the Special Jury Award at the International Film Festival of Kerala, and the Best Editor award for the film’s editor Sreekar Prasad at the Dubai International Film Festival. It will be released in India on the 20th of March 2009. The film also won an award at the Kara Film Festival.
In 2002, Das married Saumya Sen. The couple began Leapfrog, a media organisation geared towards making socially conscious ad films. The couple divorced in 2007. After dating Subodh Maskara, a Mumbai industrialist, for a couple of months, she married him on 2 January 2010 and moved to Mumbai. Das and Maskara have a son named Vihaan. In January 2017, the couple announced that they have parted ways.