Born on January 24, 1981, Riya was born in Kolkata to Bharat Dev Varma and actress Moon Moon Sen. She is the sibling of actress Raima Sen. Riya studied at Loreto House and Rani Birla Girls' College. She then went to National Institute of Fashion Technology. Riya was first seen in Falguni Pathak's music video Yaad Piya Ki Aane Lagi and was pursuing modelling before entering in to films. Riya made her Bollywood debut with Style in 2001. Jhankaar Beats and Shaadi No.1 are some other movies of Riya. Riya has also worked in Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and English films.