Sarika started her film career as a child actor, Master Sooraj, playing the role of a boy during the 1960s in Bollywood. Her most notable and popular appearance as a child artist was in the 1967 musical superhit Hamraaz where she was seen as the daughter of Vimi named baby/saarika.
She appeared in many children's movies as well as B grade movies. Later She moved to better films with Rajshri Productions Geet Gaata Chal with Sachin, with whom she starred in many Hindi and Marathi films and is known to have had a brief affair as well. After their breakup, she got involved with actor and model Deepak Parashar, before she came into contact with Kamal Hassan, whom she worked with in Karishma.
In her acting career, she was often cast as a "westernized girl" in films from 1980's. She gave up her career after her marriage to Kamal Hassan and moved to Chennai with him during the peak of her career. After separation, she has now made a comeback in Hindi films. She played Ipsita Ray Chakraverti in the film Sacred Evil – A True Story which failed at the box office.
In year 2000, she won the National Film Award for Best Costume Design for the film Hey Ram, her performance in Parzania in which she plays the role of a Zoroastrian woman who loses her child during the 2002 riots of India, fetched her the National Film Award for Best Actress.
She has starred as Sheetal Thadani in the movie Bheja Fry (2006). She also had a small but important role in Manorama Six Feet Under. Her latest movie is Shoebite which has been delayed for production where she stars opposite Amitabh Bachchan.