Initially, Neha Dhupia decided to opt for south movies before making her Bollywood debut with Harry Baweja's Qayamat: City Under Threat. The movie did averagely well at the box office. She rose to popularity with her bold role of a sex worker in Julie (2004).
In 2005, Sheesha saw Neha Dhupia portraying a double role with Sonu Sood playing the love interest for one of the sisters, while the other one simply lusts after him. In this movie, Neha had a number of intimate love making scenes with Sonu. She created a lot of buzz with her bold approach and thereafter was tagged as a sex symbol.
In an interview with the PTI, Neha Dhupia said, "I am going to admit that I have had a very strong image in the past which I have been trying to break out or come out and that is only because of choice of films. I remember there was a point when everyone used to say that I have been known as a sex symbol, I am happy people don't ask me about sex symbol image anymore."
However, after being a part of the industry for almost eight years now, she has done performance-oriented roles in films like Mithya, Dasvidaniya, Phas Gaye Re Obama and Dear Friend Hitler among others.