Rima Kallingal began dancing when she was three years old. A dancer by profession, she has performed on national and international stages. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. She completed her schooling from Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Thrissur, passing out in 2001. She was a semi-finalist of the Asianet reality show Vodafone Thakadhimi. She moved to Bangalore to pursue a modelling career and later participated in the Miss Kerala beauty pageant, in which be she became the first runner-up, losing to Shree Thulasi in a tie-breaker. She was spotted by director Lal Jose on a magazine cover, who cast her for a goat herder role in a Tamil film Mazhai Varappoguthu. The project didn't materialize, but she was offered the lead female character of Varsha by director Shyamaprasad for Ritu, which eventually marked her acting debut.