Emraan was born on March 24, 1979 in Mumbai. He is the nephew of directors Mahesh and Mukhesh Bhatt. His cousins are director Mohit Suri, actresses Alia and Pooja Bhatt, and aspiring actor Rahul Bhatt. Emraan's debut film was, as expected, a Bhatt brothers production - 2003's Footpath, co-starring Aftab Shivdasani and Bipasha Basu. It was the first of many tough guy roles.
Shortly after Footpath came Murder (2004), opposite Mallika Sherawat. Directed by Anurag Basu and written by Mahesh Bhatt, this was Emraan's first major film. The plot of the film was based largely on the Hollywood flick Unfaithful and it became famous for steamy scenes between Emraan and Mallika. Also in 2004, Emraan was cast opposite Dia Mirza in Tumsa Nahi Dekha. Though the film tanked, his performance was praised.
In 2005, Emraan was directed by cousin Mohit Suri in Zeher, co-starring actresses Shamita Shetty and Udita Goswami. He also had a small role in Mohit's Kalyug. 2005 also saw Emraan appear in his first non-Bhatt movies - Aashiq Banaya Aapne opposite Tanushree Dutta and Chocolate, with Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and Tanushree Datta. After a few non-Bhatt duds like Jawani Diwani and Aksar, came the hit Gangster (2006), co-starring Kangana Ranaut and Shiney Ahuja. Gangster re-united Emraan with his Murder director and producers - Anurag Basu and Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt. He played an undercover cop and scored his first Filmfare nomination for Best Performance in a Negative Role.