Much before making his feature film debut in 1999, Hansal Mehta directed the television cookery show Khana Khazana, marking the television debut of the now celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, in 1993. While he was a part of the show till 2000, he parallelly directed other show such as Amrita, Highway, Yaadein, Lakshya, and Neeti. Making his film debut, Hansal directed the TV movie ...Jayate in 1999, following which he made his feature film debut Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!! in 2000. However, none of his movies after his debut made a mark until he directed and wrote the screenplay of one of the stories in the 2007 anthology Dus Kahaniyaan titled High on the Highway, with which he tried to retell the story of the TV show he directed in 1995 - Highway.
It was the 2013 biographical drama Shahid, which is based on the life of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi who was assassinated in 2010, that won him critical acclaim. Hansal went on to win the National Film Award for Best Director at the 61st National Film Awards. Collaborating with Rajkummar Rao again, Hansal cast him in his next project CityLights in 2014 and the 2016 biographical drama Aligarh, which also won immense critical acclaim. In 2017, Hansal directed the Kangana Ranaut-starrer Simran, which features the story of an NRI housekeeper, who becomes addicted to gambling. His future projects include The Accidental Prime Minister, starring Anupam Kher, and Omerta, which marks his fourth collaboration with Rajkummar Rao. His 2020 release includes Chhalaang