From his first job in films as an extra actor (Dalaal 1993) to his first film as Director, it was a journey of nearly eleven years. His first film was the mystery-drama Saaya for Mahesh Bhatt's production company, Vishesh Films, starring John Abraham and Tara Sharma, which failed at the box office and was panned by critics for its loose screenplay.
Basu was in his mid-twenties when he began his television career as an assistant Director on Tara, directing about 70 episodes. He directed television serials, trying genres ranging from daily soaps to thrillers such as Saturday Suspense and Ajeeb Dastaan and horror (X-Zone). Basu's most successful work during this period was the Balaji Telefilms soap Koshish ...Ek Aashaa in 2000 and he made pilot episodes of Indian television shows including Kyun ki saans bhi kabhi bahu thi, Kahani ghar ghar ki and Kasouti zindagi ki in 2001 and 2002. He began his own company and initially he produced TV serials for Zee TV and Sony channel. The popular shows of his company were Manzilien Apni Apni, Miit, Thriller at Ten, and Horror Shows on Zee. He himself directed the TV series Miit (based on the novel Noukadubi by Rabindranath Tagore), Manzilien Apni Apni and all his other series. Basu has directed many television shows. In 2000 he received a RAPA Award for Best Director Award from the Radio and TV Advertisers Practitioners Association, followed by an Aashirwad Award for Best Director two years later. Basu returned to television in 2007 to produce and direct the college drama Love Story and hosted the Bengali reality show Ke Hobe Biggest Fan (Who Will Be the Biggest Fan) for Zee Bangla in 2010. Basu started his own film production house, Ishana Movies, in 2007 and the first film of his production company was the 2007 musical drama film Life in a... Metro with co-producer UTV. Currently his series Stories by Rabindranath Tagore is airing on Netflix and EPIC Channel.
Basu is married to Tani Basu and has two daughters, Ishana (b. 2004) and Ahana (b. 2007). Basu fought with leukemia, but never gave up hope of living a positive and energetic life.
His next film was 2010's Kites, starring Hrithik Roshan, Bárbara Mori and Kangana Ranaut.
In 2012 Basu's film Barfi!, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D'Cruz, opened to largely-positive reviews and was well received at the Busan International Film Festival. Barfi! was selected for the Taipei and Morocco film festivals. It was India's entry for the Academy Awards, but was criticized after Basu was accused of plagiarizing several Hollywood films. Barfi! was a box-office hit during its opening week, earning Rs. 586 million, and was the third-highest-grossing film that year.
His thriller film Jagga Jasoos was shot in Cape Town, South Africa. Originally planned for a release in 2014, schedule conflicts set back release. The film was produced by Basu and Ranbir Kapoor's new production company (Picture Shuru Entertainment) in association with Disney Studios. Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt were under consideration for lead roles. Reports from Cape Town were that the real-world romance of leads Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif and occasional arguments between the two caused some delays and resulted in scenes not having the import intended by Director Anurag Basu. By 20 March 2014, the Director had completed 20 days of filming with his leads and, being unhappy with initial efforts by actor Ranbir Kapoor, used the additional schedule time to re-shoot some scenes. Due to the reshoots, the film was not released until 2017.