Malaika was born to a Malayali mother, Joyce Polycarp and a Punjabi father, Anil Arora. Her father worked in the merchant navy.She is the sister to Amrita Arora.
Malaika completed her tenth grade from Swami Vivekanand School in Chembur (Mumbai). Her Aunt Grace Polycarp was the principal of that school. She is also an alumnus of the Holy Cross High School Thane where she had studied until ninth grade. She lived in Borla Society, opposite Basant Talkies before her modeling career.
When MTV India started in India, Malaika was one of their VJs. She rose to an interviewer for MTV India, becoming the most prominent and non-movie, non-model female in urban India.
MTV India, recognizing her potential gave her plum roles co-anchoring with Cyrus Broacha the popular program Love Line and Style Check, at Award Functions and concert telecast on the television channel. She then entered the modeling world. Her modeling career was equally successful.
Malaika has appeared in many advertisements as well as cameos for song and dance sequences, such as Chaiyya Chaiyya in the film Dil Se and Maahi Ve in Kaante after that she earned the symbol of sex bomb. She has since then focused on her career as a model and television anchor.
In 2005, she did another item number, Kaal Dhamaal in the movie Kaal. Recently she also did an item in Prince Mahesh Babu's Telugu film. In 2007, she did a title song in Heyy Babyy directed by Sajid Khan and another popular song for Om Shanti Om whose director is the sister of Sajid, Farah Khan. Malaika also starred in the song Hoth Rasiley in the movie Welcome.
She is married to the Bollywood actor Arbaaz Khan whom she met during a coffee ad shoot. Together they have a son, Arhaan. Her sister is actress Amrita Arora, and her brother-in-laws are actors, Salman Khan and Sohail Khan
Arbaaz said in an interview "She balances work, home and kid beautifully." Amrita said on the popular show Koffee With Karan that she doesn't know anyone in Bollywood who has maintained their body as well as Malaika, even after motherhood.