Amala was born in a Christian familyto Paul Varghese and Annice Paul. After completing her schooling from Nirmala Higher Secondary School Aluva, she took a sabbatical to begin a career in films, but has since joined St. Teresa's College in Kochi, to pursue a BA degree in English. As early as 2011, when Amala was working on Deiva Thirumagal, she was romantically linked to director A. L. Vijay but denied that the pair was dating. The pair subsequently fell in love and announced in early 2014, that they were set to get married by mid 2014. On June 7, 2014 she got engaged to Vijay at Aluva in Kochi. The couple got married on June 12, 2014 at Mayor Ramanathan Chettiar Hall, Chennai
Amala had changed her on-screen name to Anakha, on director Samy's insistence, who cited that another actress, Amala had already made her name popular. However, after the failure of Sindhu Samaveli, she reverted to her birth name since she felt that the replacement had brought her bad luck. At the time, her modelling portfolio was spotted by noted Malayalam director Lal Jose who offered her a supporting role in his remake,Neelathamara but the film failed to attract any further offers, as she had anticipated. She pursued roles in Tamil films and went on to sign the low-budget comedy film Vikadakavi which was delayed and ultimately became her sixth release. Amala Paul then went on to work in Samy's controversial Sindhu Samaveli (2010), portraying the role of Sundari, who has an illicit relationship with her father-in-law. She was approached after the major portions of her next release, Mynaa, subsequently became a large commercial success at the box-office, her performance won her critical acclaim, made her a recognised actress in the industry.
Her first release of 2011 was in a supporting role in the Malayalam drama film, Ithu Nammude Katha, a remake of the successful Tamil film Naadodigal. She went on to sign three big budget films with established production houses, with Deiva Thirumagal directed by Vijay. Her final release of 2011 was Ram Gopal Varma's Bejawada which marked her début in Telugu language films. Amala Paul's first release of 2012 was in Linguswamy's multi-starring action entertainer, Vettai. The actress had three films released on the Valentine's Day weekend of 2012, with Balaji Mohan's bilingual Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi, the romantic thriller Muppozhudhum Un Karpanaigal opposite Adharvaa, she paired with veteran Malayalam actor Mohanlal in the film Run Babby Run which was a big commercial success. She also performed as a leading role in Naayak, Iddarammayilatho, Thalaivaa, Nimirndhu Nil.