Bendre started out as a model before getting selected for the Star Dust Talent Search. She eventually got the opportunity to study under the guidance of the best Bollywood actors and performers. Initially, she was 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.