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But audiences really noticed him in Woh Saat Din, costarring Naseerudin Shah and Padmini Kolhapure.
He then set about choosing a variety of roles: underdog in Yash Chopra's Mashaal, Rajiv Rai's Yudh, Feroz Khan's Jaanbaaz and Saheb; comic artiste in Chameli Ki Shaadi, Subhash Ghai's Karma and Ram Lakhan; and angry young man in Ghai's Meri Jung, N Chandra's Tezaab and Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Parinda, Kapoor.
The films sang at the BO. And Kapoor's career skyrocketed.
Awards and acclaim followed, too. Unlike other film heroes who refused to budge from stereotype, Anil constantly reinvented himself, choosing unconventional subjects, Eeshwar and Lamhe being case in the point.
During the early 1990s, Kapoor's career nosedived with all his films (Awaargi, Jamai Raja, Khel, Jigarwala, Heer Ranjha, Pratikaar, Apradhi, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, Gurudev, Mr Azaad) bombing at the BO.
Though Beta was a success, it was a Madhuri Dixit show all the way. He then staked his claim with Laadla, followed by an impressive performance in Viraasat.
He then took a turn towards essaying meaningful character roles like in Taal, Biwi No 1, Mann and Lajja.
He is known as a perfectionist. Believes in giving retakes till he gets the perfect shot. Post Pukar, which fetched him the National Award, his last few films, Nayak, Badhaai Ho Badhaai, Om Jai Jagadish haven't done well at the BO.
However, his reputation as one of Bollywood's finest actors remains unchallenged.
Luck is no substitute for talent and hard work, AK concedes, adding, 'I have a few films that are timeless, which I don't feel ashamed of when they come on television. Films that I am proud of."
He now will be seen in Rishtey.
Meanwhile, we are proud to present Anil Kapoor as our star of the week.
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