Ashish Vidyarthi was born in a Kayastha family in Tellicherry, Kerala, in 1962 to Reba Vidyarthi, a renowned Kathak dancer and Govind Vidyarthi, his father, a Malayali theater personality. Ashish Vidyarthi moved to Delhi in 1969 and joined the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, where he won acclaim for his performances as an actor in dramatic and comedic roles. He passed his Class XII exams in 1980, after which he attended Hindu College and earned a B.A in History.
Ashish Vidyarthi began acting in minor roles and got his break in a Sai Paranjpe’s serial Hum Panchi Ek Chawl Ke. He went on to act in a number of minor serials in regional languages and in appeared in Ghutan, a major Hindi serial in the 1990s. Ashish Vidyarthi’s film career began with a supporting role in the Kannada Film Anand with Shivraj Kumar. Later, he starred with Suresh Gopi in Hijack (1991). His break in Hindi films came with Naajayaaz and Baazi. He soon began appearing as a typical villains, spewing vitriolic dialogue rather than as the “classy” Pankaj Kapur-type villains who were becoming the norm. As a result most of his films were not top of the line and were more of standard commercial masala fare. He did have some hits like Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. He also acted in supporting roles in some films such as Ek Rishta or a comic villain in Jodi No.1 and Haseena Maan Jayegi. As the film industry dried up in Mumbai, Ashish Vidyarthi received offers from South India. His role as Dawood in the Kannada movie AK 47 along with Kannada superstar Shivarajkumar and another Bollywood actor Om Puri is very memorable. He then appeared as a villain in South Indian films such as CID Moosa with Dileep, Baba as Ippo Ramasami with Rajnikanth, Dhill with Vikram, Pokiri and Athidhi in Telugu with Mahesh Babu. He has acted in TV serial Vaaris as an autocratic father. He played a strong character (Naxalite leader) named guruji in Bhagyavidhaata on Colors.
He got married to actress Rajoshi and has a son Arth. Rajoshi is the daughter of actress Shakuntala Barua.