Tara made her first appearance on screen for a Tamil film Ingeyum Oru Gangai directed by noted actor, Manivannan, in 1984 which also featured Murali in the lead. Followed by this, she featured in her first Kannada film Thulasidala in 1985. However, she got the big break of her career through a Rajkumar starrer Guri in 1986 and thereafter she has acted in several movies as a leading lady and mainly as supporting actress. Her performance in Girish Karnad's Kanooru Heggadithi brought her widespread recognition. She received her first ever award as best actress for the Kannada movie Krama(1991), directed by debutant director Asrar Abid. In the late 1980s, she featured in Mani Ratnam's two of the biggest blockbuster Tamil films, Nayagan and Agni Natchathiram as a supporting actress.
Tara paired with almost all the leading male co-stars in the 80's and 90's including Rajkumar, Shankar Nag, Vishnuvardhan, Ambarish, Ananth Nag, Ravichandran, Shashikumar, Tiger Prabhakar, Shivarajkumar, Raghavendra Rajkumar, Murali, Karthik, Sunil, Devaraj among others. She also received her second "best actress" state award for the movie Kaanooru Heggadithi and also "best supporting actress" award for the movie Munjaneya Manju.
In 2005, she was cast by Girish Kasaravalli in his film Hasina, for which she won a National Award from the Indian Government. Subsequently, her role in Kannada movie Deadly Soma was appreciated. Then came her another breakthrough performance in the movie Cyanide. In 2007, Tara received her third Best Actress award. Beside acting, she produced Hasina, directed by Girish Kasaravalli and she has also announced an intent to direct films as well.
Tara married cinematographer H. C. Venugopal in 2005. She gave birth to a baby boy in February 2013 through the help of IVF.