Pancholi began his career with television movies produced by Nari Hira and ventured into mainstream Bollywood cinema with Sasti Dulhan Mehnga Dulha (1986). Pancholi first came to limelight with an important role in Maha-Sangram (1990). He had the peak of his career between the late 1980s and early 1990s. He initially gave critically acclaimed performances as a lead actor in films like Kab Tak Chup Rahungi (1988), Qatil (1988), Kahan Hai Kanoon (1989), Sailaab (1990), Laal Paree (1991), Naamcheen (1991), Yaad Rakhegi Duniya (1992), Chor Aur Chaand (1993) and Surakshaa (1995) but failed to find commercial success. His biggest commercial success as a lead actor and his most well-known performance was in Mahesh Bhatt's Saathi (1991).
After failing to make a mark as a lead actor, Pancholi became a supporting actor in multi-starrer movies like Ladaai (1988), Jaadugar (1989), Aatish: Feel the Fire (1994) and Aankhen (2002) and became synonymous for negative roles in movies like Awwal Number (1990), Jung (1996), Khilona (1996), Yes Boss (1997), Hameshaa (1997), Jung (2000) and Musafir (2004).
Pancholi was born in a Pancholi family. He is the son of the filmmaker Rajan Pancholi and Aruna Pancholi. He has one sister and two brothers. He received his early education from St. Joseph's High School in Juhu, Mumbai. In 1986, Pancholi married actress Zarina Wahab and they have two children Sooraj (b. 9 November 1990) and Sana. Sooraj made his acting debut in Hero (2015).
Nirmal Pancholi was spotted by a director when he was travelling in a local train for his charming good looks and personality. He was signed for a few television video films produced by Hiba, which was owned by the Stardust magazine owner Nari Hira. Pancholi made his acting debut with Shahadat in 1985. He followed 1986 with television films Sone Ka Pinjra, Siyahi, Kalank Ka Tika, Afshar Ki Saali and Maryam Ki Beti. Later that year, he ventured into mainstream Bollywood with Sasti Dulhan Mahenga Dulha. During this time, he adopted the stage name Aditya Pancholi.
In 1987, Pancholi gave critically acclaimed performances in two television movies: Abhishek and Khatarnaak Irade. In Abhishek, he essayed the role of a well-known businessman who used his father's wealth in enjoying leisure time and used a new gear and costume to help depressed and troubled people. The film co-starred Archana Puran Singh, Neeta Puri and Jeet Upendra. In Khatarnaak Irade, Pancholi played the role of a womanizer lifeguard who got himself into trouble while falling in love with a married woman played by Anju Mahendru.
Pancholi had his first prominent Bollywood role with a supporting role in Feroz Khan's Dayavan (1988) opposite Vinod Khanna and Madhuri Dixit. Later that year, he collaborated with K.C. Bokadia in Kab Tak Chup Rahungi opposite Amala. This was his first lead role in Bollywood and established him as a lead actor in the industry. His next notable release that year was Qatil, in which he starred opposite Sangeeta Bijlani. Pancholi essayed the role of a lawyer's son who stood up against the law of death penalty and imprisonment and proved himself guilty on the murder of a prostitute but was trapped when a friend betrayed him by removing all of the evidences. Both films flopped at the box office but he received critical acclaim for his performance.
In 1989, Pancholi starred in the romance flick Mohabat Ka Paigham opposite Meenakshi Sheshadri. His first major success in the industry began in 1990 with an important role in Mukul S. Anand's multi-starrer action film Maha Sangram, which featured an ensemble cast of Vinod Khanna, Govinda and Madhuri Dixit, which brought him into limelight. His portrayal of the angry Rajput Thakur was the main reason behind the success of the movie. He also sang a few lines in the song "Dhak Dhak Dhak" with Alisha Chinai. He next starred in the comedy film Baap Numbri Beta Dus Numbri, which emerged as his first major commercial success and became one of the highest grossing films of the year. He next starred opposite rising actress Madhuri Dixit in Sailaab. The movie flopped at the box office but the songs of the movie were very popular. Pancholi would close the year with a double role in Zakhmi Zameen opposite Jaya Prada and his first negative role in the sports action thriller Awwal Number opposite Dev Anand and Aamir Khan.
Pancholi began 1991 with Naamcheen opposite Ekta Sohini in which he played the role of an unemployed young man who steps into the underworld to make money and becomes one of the wealthiest people of his city; but loses his family and friends in the race of wealth and decides to kill the two rival gangsters to rehabilitate their goons and surrenders to the police. His next major release was Vishnu-Devaa that saw him pair with Sunny Deol, Neelam and Sangeeta Bijlani. The film was the seventeenth highest-grossing film of the year. He paired with Jeetendra to play one of the title roles in Shiv Ram. Later that year, he collaborated with renowned director Mahesh Bhatt in Saathi opposite Mohsin Khan and Varsha Usgaonkar. The film emerged as a box office success and went on to become the biggest box office hit of Pancholi's career as it was his career–defining performance and gave him recognition in the industry. He followed with a supporting role in the multi-starrer Akayla opposite Kiran Juneja. The film featured an ensemble cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Amrita Singh, Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Sheshadri. It was a semi-hit and became the seventh highest grossing film of the year. His last release of the year was Jeevan Daata opposite Chunky Pandey, Kimi Katkar and Sonu Walia.
He started 1992 with the romance film Yaad Rakhegi Duniya opposite debutant Rukhsar Rehman. The film flopped at the box office but Pancholi received critical acclaim for his performance for essaying the role of a man with terminal illness who falls in love with a girl, who herself suffers from a terminal illness. His last release of the year was the multi-starrer action film Tahalka opposite Dharmendra, Naseeruddin Shah. Pancholi portrays an army officer and is paired with Ekta Sohini. The film emerged as the fifth-highest grossing film of the year.
Pancholi turned producer for the first time in the 1993 romance action film Chor Aur Chaand and acted in the lead role opposite Pooja Bhatt. The film was a failure at the box office. His next release was the multi-starrer action film Game opposite Naseeruddin Shah, Rahul Roy and Sangeeta Bijlani. His only release of 1994 was Sanjay Gupta's multi-starrer action film Aatish: Feel the Fire featuring an ensemble cast of Sanjay Dutt, Raveena Tandon, Karisma Kapoor and Atul Agnihotri. Aatish was one of the highest grossing movies at the box office.
He opened 1995 with the lead role in the multi-starrer action film Surakshaa, in which he was paired with Sheeba with an ensemble cast of Sunil Shetty, Saif Ali Khan, Divya Dutta and Monica Bedi. Pancholi reunited with Shetty and Khan for another multi-starrer lead role in the 1996 action film Ek Tha Raja with Neelam, Pratibha Sinha and Indrani Banerjee, but the film flopped at the box office. Later that year, Pancholi collaborated with South Indian director T. Rama Rao in Jung, portraying a double role opposite Mithun Chakraborty, Ajay Devgan, Rambha and Sujata Mehta. Pancholi received critical acclaim for playing a positive character of an innocent train driver who is punished for a murder which he has never committed and it is committed by a look-alike gangster. His last release of the year was Khilona opposite Ayub Khan and Monica Bedi, which flopped at the box office.
After failing to succeed as a lead actor at the box office after consistent flops for nearly a decade, Pancholi stopped receiving offers for lead roles and switched to negative roles and supporting roles as 1997 approached, starting with Aziz Mirza's romantic comedy Yes Boss opposite Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla. Yes Boss was a commercial success and emerged as one of the highest grossing movies of the year. He received critical acclaim for his negative role and earned a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role. His next release was Hameshaa opposite Saif Ali Khan and Kajol, with Pancholi essaying a negative role. The film was a failure at the box office.
With no major release in 1998 and 1999, Pancholi paired with Sanjay Dutt and Manisha Koirala to play the negative role in Baaghi (2000). Later that year, he reunited with Sanjay Gupta to play the negative role of a police inspector in Jung opposite Sanjay Dutt, Jackie Shroff, Raveena Tandon and Shilpa Shetty. The film flopped at the box office. His last release of the year was Tarkieb opposite Nana Patekar, Tabu and Shilpa Shetty.
In 2002, Pancholi had his next major release with a supporting role in Vipul Amrutlal Shah's heist thriller Aankhen which featured an ensemble cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Sushmita Sen and Paresh Rawal. The film was a hit at the box office and emerged as one of the highest grossing films of the year. Pancholi collaborated with Sanjay Gupta for the fifth time in the 2004 action thriller Musafir essaying the role of the main antagonist opposite Anil Kapoor, Sameera Reddy, Mahesh Manjrekar, Koena Mitra, Shakti Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt.
Pancholi made his comeback to the film industry with a negative role in Chandan Arora's low budget action film Striker (2010), which flopped at the box office. Pancholi restricted himself to negative and character roles with films like Rush (2012) Hridayanath(2012), Mumbai Mirror (2013), Race 2 (2013), Jai Ho (2014), Dishkiyaoon (2014), Hero (2015) and Bajirao Mastani (2015).
Kangna Ranaut said that Aditya beat her up. Eye witness say that he stopped her rikshaw and pulled her out , he then started beating her. People gathered and kangana escaped.Kangnana Ranaut, in a recent interview on "Aap ki Adalat" aired on India TV, claimed that Aditya Pancholi has physically abused her during her early days in Bollywood￼￼￼.