Malini was born in Calcutta, India in 1966. She suffered from a loss of oxygen during birth causing cerebral palsy. Her parents moved to England after her birth to get better care for her. After her brother Nikhil was born, the family moved back to India. Since no school would take her as a student, her mother started a school called The Centre For Special Education. Malini would later return to England to attend Thomas Delarue School, a boarding school for pupils with cerebral palsy. She returned to India to attend St. Xavier's College in Mumbai where she earned a BA. She went back to England to get a master's degree in Gender Studies at the Institute of Education, University of London. Filmmaker Shonali Bose is her first cousin.