The actress rose to fame for her sensitive and unwavering role in the Bengali television series Streer Patra (1985). Before she eseayed Mrinal, she appeared in the hit Bengali television series Muktabandha (1985). Mrinal happened later which brought her the image of protesting womanhood. A beautiful bride stands alone against the injustice of her clan and ultimately leaves them by choice. She was outstanding as Mrinal with her profound and irrevocable depiction of the heroine of Tagore. Bhashyo wrote on her performance, “Mrinal is thought-provoking and Roopa has been the perfect brooding beauty for this role. She is never loud still she looks unwavering. Madhabi Mukherjee too was brilliant as Mrinal in Purnendu Patri’s Streer Patra, but Roopa has surpassed her. She looks like she has already walked beyond the distance which covers the trivial, mundane, meaningless, loveless customs of soceity.” And then happened Ganadevta whose success led her to B R Chopra’s Mahabharat. This is the role that earned her nationwide fame. After ages she is still being impersonated on as Draupadi.
In 1988, Roopa made her film debut in Prabhat Roy’s Pratik opposite Chiranjeet. The film was a hit at box office as well as her chemistry with Chiranjeet was much talked about. Prabhat Roy again cast them together in his Tufan and Agnitrishna. Back then she was rumoured to be the secret lover of Chiranjeet and soon it became the talk of the talk of the town. We never came to know whether that was the reason why Roopa and Chiranjeet did not work together for a long time or something else.
Like everyone Roopa too wanted to make a flying Bollywood career but she never succeeded to manage it. After appearing in two back to back critically acclaimed Hindi films Ek Din Achanak by Mrinal Sen and Kamla Ki Maut by Basu Chatterjee, Roopa decided to star in Tariq Shah’s Bahaar Ane Tak (1990) which is still regarded as an impolitic decision as this very film literally brings the doom to her career. Notwithstanding an interesting storyline, the film became a box office dud due to several reasons. BAT did not have an exhilarating screenplay nor it had any big star to convey the film on. Neither Sumeet Saigal nor Tariq Shah was herculean enough to shoulder a film. After BAT had flunked at box office, Roopa Ganguly’s name was struck off from the wishlist of Bollywood directors and producers, and she was soon replaced by other actresses. Director Sachin Pilgaonkar had decided to cast her in his Prem Deewane (1992) but flinched back after BAT dashed all the hope at box office and Roopa Ganguly was soon replaced by Madhuri Dixit. Director Partho Ghosh, too thought of her for a female lead in one of his films but later changed his mind for the same reason.
In 1991, Roopa had four Bollywood releases. She acted in Kovelamudi Bapayya’s Pyar Ka Devta. She played the sister of the protagonist character played by Mithun Chakraborty. The thing is that this film also stars Madhuri Dixit as the love interest of Chakraborty and it was her who was a bigger choice than her to be put into the spotlight regarding this film. The film was an average performer at box office. Her another release was Inspector Dhanush whose Kannada version, Police Matthu Dada was released in the same year. While the Kannada version made fair buck, the Hindi version was a major dud at box office as the audience of Hindi cinema looked on a forty years old Visnuvardhan as hardly appealing. Moreover the pairing of Vishnuvardhan and Roopa was vehemently mortified by both the viewers and reviewers with the critical accreditation that they looked together merely a father and a daughter rather than love birds. Her another one was one of the most impolitic choices made ever by her. She gave her nod to P. Chandrakumar’s Meena Bazar where she had actually nothing to do but to sport ample skin show which she did on a handsome remuneration. Indian film writer Sachin Bhowmick said, “It has really not been wise to have acted in a film like Meena Bazar. She is still popular for her Draupadi image and her titilating photos certainly hurled against the public sentiment. I do not mean that she should have stuck to her image of Draupadi only but what she needed basically was to select a role carefully as it would help an actor to proceed further with better roles.” In 1992, she was missing from the Bollywood silver screen except a cameo role in Salman Khan starrer Nischay (1992). In 1994, she starred in Akash Jain’s Gopalaa where she once again had literally nothing to do but to sport ample skin show. The film was a debacle at box office. Roopa Ganguly, off late, clarified that back then she had done some films of lesser quality only because she badly needed money for accomodation and those films offered her considerable remuneration. Besides she pointed out that her face is the very opposite to the ones that indian audience have lauded so long. The Antarmahal actress has an uncommon personality with a strength and vigour of man. Her calm and fearless gaze and a high head was completely averse to the popular submissive image of an Indian heroine.