Rati Agnihotri was born on 10th December 1960, in Bombay. She belonged to a conservative family, yet was allowed to begin modelling at the age of 10. When she was a teenager, her father relocated the family to Madras, Tamil Nadu because of his job. There she attended Good Shepherd's Convent School.
Bharathiraja, one of Tamil film's famous directors, was among the audience of the play starring Rati, and was searching for a heroine to star in his new film. He convinced Rati's father to allow her to do the film, and promised the film would wrap in a month. Her father reluctantly agreed, and a sixteen-year-old Rati was very excited as she got to star in her first film, Pudhiya Varpukal (1979). The film became a blockbuster and Rati shot to fame instantly. Rati’s second film, Niram Marada Pookkal (1979), was also directed by Bharatiraja. Even though she was Punjabi, South Indian audiences treated her as one among their own. She started calling herself "Tamilian at heart” and calling Madras her home. Shaukeen (1981) marked her debut in Bollywood. It was a huge hit. It is one of the all-time best comedy flicks.In 1981, she acted in few other films, among which Ek Duuje Ke Liye, co-starring Kamal Hassan, became a big blockbuster, and is remembered even today. The film was about passionate lovers who are torn apart by their parents. Rati then became a popular figure in the industry and went on to give many other hits. Farz Aur Kanoon (1982), also starring Jeetendra and Hema Malini, was a big hit. Star (1982) was a big disappointment, though its music was a big hit. Swami Dada (1982) was an average affair. In 1983, Mazdoor and Main Awara Hoon flopped, while Coolie, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan, was the highest grossing film that year. Rati also starred in Mashaal (1984) and Boxer (1984) which were about average, though the former was critically acclaimed.Her next film John Jani Janardhan (1984) was a big hit. With 12 releases in 1985, Rati was one among the most wanted actresses. But unfortunately, most of them flopped viz. Ek Se Bhale Do (1985), Karishma Kudrat Kaa (1985), Zabardast (1985) , Ulta Seedha (1985), Dekha Pyar Tumhara (1985), Jaanoo (1985) and few others. Tawaif (1985) was a big hit. Bhawani Juction (1985) did quite well too. Some other flops followed up, like Zindagani (1986), Mera Suhag (1987), Loha (1987) and Itihaas (1987). Hukumat (1987), co-starring Dharmendra, was a huge hit. She then did a couple of films viz. Zalzala (1988) and Jaan-E-Wafa (1990), after which she took a break from films. In 2001, Rati made her comeback in Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi, in which she played Kajol’s mother. The movie failed to do well. She also starred in Subhash Ghai’s Yaadein… (2001) which again failed to click. Rati did supporting roles in several other films like Kranti (2002), Tum Se Achcha Kaun Hai (2002), Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002), Yeh Hai Jalwa (2002), Krishna Cottage (2004), Kyun…! Ho Gaya Na (2004), Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha (2004), Kis Kis Ki Kismat (2004) and few others, all of which flopped. Kaante (2002) was average, while Dev (2004) was critically acclaimed. Hum Tum (2004) was a huge success. Socha Na Tha (2005) was quite appreciated as well Rati was recently seen in Rama Rama Kya Hai Dramaaa (2008). She has no other films on hand, reportedly.