Bendre was a model before entering the Star Dust Talent Search. She was then cast in a movie called Ram, produced by Sohail Khan. However, this movie was never made. Her first major role was in Aag (1994) at the age of 19. For this, she won the Filmfare Award for Lux New Face of the Year and Star Screen Awards for Most Promising Newcomer. In 1994, she also appeared in Naaraaz, for which she was awarded Filmfare's Sensational Debut award. In 1995, she appeared in Bombay in the song Humma Humma.