Swatilekha started her career in theater in Allahabad in the early 1970s, acting in productions under the direction of A.C. Banerjee. She also received guidance from B.V. Karanth, Tapas Sen, and Khaled Chowdhury. Then she moved to Kolkata and joined the theater group Nandikar in 1978. In Nandikar she worked under the direction of Rudraprasad Sengupta, whom she went on to marry.
She was also the lead female protagonist in Ghare Baire, a 1985 film by Satyajit Ray, against Victor Banerjee and Soumitra Chatterjee. This film was based upon a novel of the same name Ghare Baire written by the famous Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore.
- 2011 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her contribution to Indian theatre as an actor.
- West Bengal Theatre Journalists’ Association award.
- Paschim Banga Natya Akademi award.