Madhavi was born in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh. Her father was a deputy commissioner in commercial tax department, due to which her family moved to various places including Tirupati, Nellore, Guntur, Vijayawada and Hyderabad, before settling in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, where she did her studies. She completed her degree in Biotechnology from Vellore Institute of Technology in 2005.
While in college, she started modelling, her first assignment being for Saravana Stores. She had the desire to act in films but her family was strictly against her entering the film industry, with Madhavi citing that her father did not speak to her for eight months and that her mother too was upset.She met celebrity photographer Venket Ram in Chennai who agreed to do a portfolio shoot for her.
She stated that Venket Ram was “amazingly helpful”, as he gave her advice and that he was “the closest to a godfather I have in tinsel town”. She did more modelling and went to appear in television advertisements. Thanks to her work in a Tata Gold Tanishq advertisement, she was auditioned and selected by noted Telugu director Sekhar Kammula to act in his production, Avakai Biryani, while she also landed a supporting role in Cheran’s Tamil film Pokkisham (2009).
Her other release of 2009 was Bumper Offer, opposite Sairam Shankar, which was produced by noted director Puri Jagannadh. She later appeared in the film Om Shanti which released in 2010. Producer Dil Raju signed her for Rama Rama Krishna Krishna alongside Ram and Arjun Sarja that released in May 2010. She was later signed by director Gautham Menon for his production Veppam that was directed by his associate Anjana Ali Khan,and featured her in the role of a sex worker.
After Veppam, Madhavi shifted her focus to the Tamil industry as she received more Tamil film offers. Her next Tamil release Kazhugu was a success at the box office. In 2013 she was seen in Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga, Desingu Raja and Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam all of which were hits. She stated that Kazhugu andKedi Billa Killadi Ranga were “two films that changed my life”. Her first 2014 release was Chimbu Deven’s Oru Kanniyum Moonu Kalavaniyum, in which she played the role of Malar, the protagonist’s friend.
She said that she was given the option to choose between the roles of the protagonist’s friend or his lover and chose the former as she felt “there was more scope to act”. Her upcoming films are Tamiluku En Ondrai Aluthavum, Kalukkuray Maaplay, in which she plays the role of a police sub-inspector, Savaale Samaali, which sees her collaborating with her Kazhugu director Sathya Siva, and a film by Pandiraj.