Brief returns to South India in 2001 were coupled with Koppikar's proper Bollywood debut in a small supporting role in Rajiv Rai's Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat, starring Arjun Rampal and Sunil Shetty. By 2002, Koppikar appeared to be consigned to support roles until she was asked by Ram Gopal Varma to appear in an item number for his underworld movie Company starring Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi and Manisha Koirala.
The number in question was Khallas, choreographed by Ganesh Hegde and the effect on cinema audiences and critics was to leave her with the enduring nickname Khallas Girl.
Ram Gopal Varma's much discussed Shabri, directed by Lalit Marathe -a role which led her to being unrecognised and barred from the film set by security personnel- struggled to attract a distributor.
Koppikar's highest profile film of 2007, Nikhil Advani's multi-starrer Salaam-e-Ishq, saw her sharing limited screen time with Sohail Khan.
Inteqam, directed by Pankaj Parashar and co-starring Manoj Bajpai, saw her revive the role played by Sharon Stone in the original Hollywood version: Basic Instinct.
In Krishna Cottage, she was cast opposite Sohail Khan for Santram Varma's creepy ghost story.In addition to this she has appeared in two music videos: Patli Kamar by KK for a private album commissioned by Sony in 2001/2002; and Bandish Projekt's Bhor (Satyam Shivam Sundaram) in 2004, choreographed by Bosco-Caesar.In 2006 she appeared onstage in the Indian Idol Grand Final to dance with the two finalists, and 2007 saw her as one of three judges in the celebrity dance competition Nach Baliye3, alongside director David Dhawan and Vaibhavi Merchant. She served as a judge in the Miss Universe 2008 contest, held on 14 July in Vietnam alongside, amongst others, fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and former winner in 2004 Jennifer Hawkins.The film provoked public poster burning and calls for the film to be banned.In 2005, she eased up somewhat only releasing four films.
Later in the year came the haunted love triangle of Ram Gopal Varma's Darling, with Fardeen Khan and Esha Deol.