Leena Chandavarkar was born in North Karnataka in the Karwar-Dharwad region. Her father was a retired officer in armed forces and chose to live in Dharwad. Leena studied at Bassel Mission Girl's high school for some years. Like most Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins, she is fluent in Konkani, Marathi and Kannada.
Leena won a talent contest in Mumbai at the age of 15 and went to Mumbai to become an actress. But when she reached Mumbai, she was told that though she was photogenic and talented, she was too young to play the heroine. Unwilling to act in sisters' roles, Leena bided her time and modelled for a few advertisements, which brought her to the notice of actor-filmmaker Sunil Dutt. Sunil Dutt was producing a film to launch his brother Som Dutt. He offered Leena the leading lady's role in this home production, Man Ka Meet (1969). Vinod Khanna also made his debut in the film as the villain. Sunil Dutt entrusted his actress wife Nargis with the gruelling job of grooming Leena. Under Nargis' tutelage, Leena learnt to speak Hindi, western dancing and driving. Ironically, the industry embraced Vinod and her in its fold, while Som, for whom brother Sunil Dutt had ostensibly produced the film, was sidelined.
Man Ka Meet was a moderate success but Leena soon followed it up with a fun-filed romantic comedy, Humjoli (1970), co-starring Jeetendra. Two frenetically-paced duets from the film, “Dhal gaya din” and “Haaye re haaye”, became extremely popular, especially the former where Leena and Jeetendra danced and played badminton, hitting the shuttle with the beat. The song “Dhal gaya din” was spoofed by Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in Om Shanti Om (2007).
Leena quickly made it to the A-list of heroines and was offered films with the biggest names. In the Rajesh Khanna era, Shammi Kapoor made a last ditch effort to woo back his audience by romancing the much-younger Leena in Jaane Anjaane(1971) and Preetam(1971). Leena was paired opposite Dharmendra in Rakhwala (1971) and opposite Rajesh Khanna in H. S. Rawail's expensive Muslim social, Mehboob Ki Mehndi (1971). The movie is rated as one of her best performances but failed miserably at the box-office. The song “Jaane kyun log mohabbat” from the film became a chartbuster. Ironically, Leena's career got an early fillip not through a film starring these major heroes, but in a film with popular comedian Mehmood in the title role. Main Sunder Hoon(1971), a tragic-comic tale of an ordinary-looking actor's obsession with a sympathetic pretty woman, had Biswajeet employed for the perfunctory song 'n' dance routine while Leena and Mehmood hogged center-stage. Leena’s pairing with Sanjeev Kumar saw great success with Anhonee (1973) and Manchali (1974). But it was with Bidaai (1974) opposite Jeetendra that she saw her career’s biggest hit. Her grey-shaded role where she plays Jeetendra’s wife who tries to pull him away from his mother was widely appreciated.
Leena is happy in her domestic life and lives with son Sumeet and Kishore Kumar’s son Amit Kumar in Mumbai. Recently, she appeared as the guest judge for the first two episodes of K For Kishore on Sony TV. Leena will be starring opposite Rajesh Khanna in an upcoming serial Bhabima to be directed by Raj Kamal. Leena has been offered a role opposite Amitabh Bachchan by Rajkumar Santoshi for one of his forthcoming films.In 1974, Leena married Siddharth Bandodkar and retired from films. Tragically, Siddharth died in an accident early into their marriage. Later Leena married Kishore Kumar and she began acting again, appearing in some films in the 1980s. Tragically, Kishore passed away in 1987. Her son with Kishore, Sumeet Kumar is now a singer carrying on in his famous father's shoes.