|Rampal made his acting debut in Rajiv Rai's Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat opposite Sunil Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani and Kirti Reddy. Rampal gave a flying performance and attracted all the attention. He was critically acclaimed for his performance in the film. Taran Adarsh of indiaFM wrote "Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat is a showcase for Arjun Rampal to show his talent. The guy looks frisky and emotes with the utmost sincerity.|
He has managed the moments of emotion with maturity, which is so rare for a first job, confident beginnings! " This established Rampal as a major player in the Indian film industry. He was nominated for the Best Men's Filmfare Award, but swapped the awards in Best Male First at the Star Screen and IIFA ceremonies.
His next outing was Deewaanapan from Ashu Trikha, in which Rampal was paired with Dia Mirza. He was critically acclaimed for his performance, but the film collapsed at the box office. Taran Adarsh of IndiaFM wrote: "Arjun Rampal wears the film on his broad shoulders and offers a sincere and consistent performance throughout.
It is wonderful in action sequences and arouses a pleasant surprise in moments of emotion by delivering the appropriate expressions. " Rediff's Ashish Magotra gave negative reviews on Rampal, writing, "Among the actors, Arjun Rampal as a hero does just about what he was doing to make models, his acting abilities leave a lot to be desired. " His last version of the year was Moksha of Ashok Mehta.
Arjun Rampal signs autographs during the Temptation photocall at the Washington Hotel in London, England.The first release of Rampal in 2002 was Aankhen's Vipul Amrutlal Shah, in which Rampal played in a casting with Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Sushmita Sen, Paresh Rawal and Aditya Pancholi. He played the role of a blind person. The film was rated above the box office average and became the fourth-largest Bollywood film of 2002. His next release was Kundan Shah's Dil Hai Tumhaara opposite Rekha, Preity Zinta, Mahima Chaudhry and Jimmy Shergill. The film was a flop.
In 2003, Rampal played a leading role in Nilesh Malhotra's Dil Ka Rishta vis-à-vis Aishwarya Rai. Rampal has been critically acclaimed for his performance. Ronjita Kulkarni of Rediff wrote: "Arjun Rampal shakes his wood image and gets a good performance, he is subtle and convincing in the emotional scenes, he certainly surpassed Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat." the thirtieth film of the year based on box office revenues.