The film was a smashing success and established Patel as a rising star, earning her awards for Best Debut at a number of award ceremonies.In her second film, the Telugu language drama Badri, she starred opposite Pawan Kalyan.
2001 saw her appearing in Anil Sharma's cross-border romance, Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, alongside Sunny Deol.Patel signed on much before she shot into the limelight with Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai and was among 22 girls that were screen-tested from 500 girls who came to audition for the film.Later on, she received an offer from Morgan Stanley but turned it down.After returning to India, she joined Satyadev Dubey's theatre group and acted in plays, including an Urdu language play titled Neelam (1999) that was written by Tanveer Khan, upon receiving permission from her conservative parents.Patel's first opportunity for acting came in the form of an offer from her father's schoolmate, Rakesh Roshan, to star opposite his son, Hrithik Roshan, in Kaho Naa... The offer came immediately after she graduated from high school but she refused the project because she wanted to continue her education in USA.Afterward, Kareena Kapoor replaced her but luckily, Kapoor dropped out a few days into principal photography and Patel was given the opportunity once again during a family lunch. The role of an exuberant college girl in love, undergoing a tortuous time at losing her lover and rediscovering a more mature relationship gave Patel scope to perform.Patel's unsuccessful follow-up continued with Kranti and David Dhawan's comedy Yeh Hai Jalwa in 2002.In the same year, she tasted minor box office success with Kya Yehi Pyaar Hai, in which she played a career-oriented young woman who rejects the advances of Aftab Shivdasani's character.Her birth name is a blend of the first three letters of her father's name Amit and the last three letters of her mother's name Asha.She studied at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai and was head girl for the academic year 1992–93 before heading overseas to study Bio-genetic engineering, which she studied for two years, and eventually switching to Economics at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Patel's career began as an economic analyst at Khandwala Securities Limited after graduation.