Kapoor was born in Mumbai to film producer Surinder Kapoor and appeared in his first film with a small role in the Umesh Mehra's romance Hamare Tumhare (1979). He made his first debut film and then starred as a lead actor in the 1980 Telugu film, Vamsa Vruksham directed by Bapu. He then made his Kannada film debut with Mani Ratnam's Pallavi Anu Pallavi (1983). He received his first Filmfare Award, in the Best Supporting Actor category, for his role in Yash Chopra's Mashaal (1984). Kapoor earned his first Filmfare Best Actor Award for his performance in N. Chandra's Tezaab (1988) and another for his performance in Indra Kumar's Beta (1992). Kapoor subsequently starred in many other critically and commercially successful films, including Meri Jung (1985), Yudh (1985), Karma (1986), Janbaaz (1986), Aap Ke Saath (1986), Mr. India (1987), Ghar Ho To Aisa (1990), Awaargi (1990), Benaam Badsha (1991), and Virasat (1997), for which he won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor; Taal (1999), for which he won his second Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award; Pukar (2000 ), which earned him a National Film Award for Best Actor; No Entry (2005) and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) for which he won his third Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. Kapoor has starred in more than a hundred films.