Nagma was born to Arvind Pratapsinh Morarji and Shama Kazi. After divorcing Morarji in August 1973, Nagma's mother married Chander Sadanah, a film producer in March 1975 with whom she had three children: including two daughters, actresses Roshini and Jyothika.
Nagma's debut film Baaghi: A Rebel for Love, opposite Salman Khan was Hindi cinema's seventh highest grossing film in 1990. She moved south to star in Telugu and Tamil movies at the behest of her friend Divya Bharti. Her Telugu films include 1992's Gharana Mogudu with Chiranjeevi, Allari Alludu with Nagarjuna Akkineni and Major Chandrakanth with N. T. Rama Rao and Mohan Babu. Her Tamil films include Baasha withRajnikanth and 1994's Kadhalan with Prabhu Deva. While based in Mumbai, she continued to work in some Telugu and Tamil movies, such as Allari Ramudu and Citizen, as well as taking leading roles in some Malayalam films. Nagma has acted in Bhojpuri movies, including films with the "Big Boss" participant Ravi Kishan. In 2006's Ganga, she starred in the title role opposite Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini. In 2006, she made her Punjabi film debut, starring alongside Raj Babbar in Ek Jind Ek Jaan. She also as a vocal supporter of India's Indian National Congress, she had only formally become a member of the Congress Party in Delhi.