Naseeruddin Shah

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Naseeruddin Shah
Naseeruddin Shah Audio release of 'Maximum' 06 (cropped).jpg
Shah in 2012
Born (1950-07-20) 20 July 1950 (age 70)
Alma mater Film and Television Institute of India
National School of Drama
  • Actor
  • director
  • environmentalist
Years active1972–present
Spouse(s)Parveen Murad, also known as Manara Sikri (deceased)
(m. 1982)
Children Heeba, Imaad, Vivaan
Relatives Zameerud-din Shah (brother)
Dina Pathak (mother-in-law)
Supriya Pathak (sister-in-law)
Surekha Sikri (former sister-in-law)
Mohommed Ali Shah (nephew)
Awards National Film Award
Filmfare Awards
Honours Padma Bhushan
Padma Shri
Naseeruddin Shah Signature.jpg

Naseeruddin Shah (born 20 July 1950) is an Indian film and stage actor and director in the Hindi language film industry. He is notable in Indian parallel cinema. [1] [2] He has won numerous awards in his career, including three National Film Awards, three Filmfare Awards and an award at the Venice Film Festival. The Government of India has honoured him with the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan awards for his contributions to Indian cinema. [3]


Early life

Naseeruddin Shah was born on 20 July 1950 in Barabanki town of Uttar Pradesh, into a Pashtun Muslim family that originally came from Meerut. [4] [5]

Shah did his schooling at St. Anselm's Ajmer and St Joseph's College, Nainital. He graduated in arts from Aligarh Muslim University in 1971 and attended National School of Drama in Delhi.

His elder brother, Lt. General Zameerud-din Shah [6] (Retd.) PVSM, SM, VSM, was Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. [7] [8]


Shah has acted in movies such as Nishant, Aakrosh, Sparsh, Mirch Masala, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Trikal, Bhavni Bhavai, Junoon, Mandi, Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho!, Ardh Satya, Katha, and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro . [9] He made his debut with a small role in film Aman (1967) starring Rajendra Kumar and Saira Banu.

Shah became active in mainstream Bollywood cinema with the 1980 film Hum Paanch . In 1982, he acted in the film Dil Aakhir Dil Hai directed by Ismail Shroff, opposite Rakhee. One of his most important films, Masoom, was released in 1983 [10] and was shot at St Joseph's College, Nainital. His next major success in mainstream films was the 1986 multi-star film Karma where he acted alongside veteran Dilip Kumar. Starring roles for films such as Ijaazat (1987), Jalwa (1988) and Hero Hiralal (1989) followed. In 1988, he played opposite his wife Ratna Pathak as Inspector Ghote, the fictional detective of H. R. F. Keating's novels in the Merchant Ivory English language film The Perfect Murder . He acted with Aditya Pancholi in films like Maalamaal (1988) and Game (1993).

He has acted in several multi-star Bollywood films as well, such as Ghulami (1985), Tridev (1989) and Vishwatma (1992). In 1994, he acted as the villain in Mohra , his 100th film as an actor. He forayed into Malayalam cinema the same year, through T. V. Chandran's drama Ponthan Mada . The film portrayed the irrational bonding of a feudal serf (played by Mammootty) and a colonial landlord (played by Shah). He strongly believed that the distinction between art and commercial films had largely reduced, especially with the directors of the former also making commercial films. In 2000, Shah played Mahatma Gandhi in Kamal Hassan's Hey Ram [11] which focused on the assassination of Gandhi from the assailant's point of view.

Shah played Mohit, the drunken coach to a deaf and mute boy in Iqbal , which was written by Vipul K Rawal with Shah in mind. Shah was noted for his roles in the 1999 Aamir Khan-starrer Sarfarosh, where he played Gulfam Hassan – a ghazal singer-cum-terrorist mastermind — and in Neeraj Pandey's A Wednesday (2008).

Shah has also starred in international projects, such as Monsoon Wedding in 2001 and a Hollywood adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003 (co-starring Sean Connery), where he played Captain Nemo. His portrayal of Nemo was very close to the design of the graphic novel, although his Nemo was far less manic. He worked in Vishal Bhardwaj's Indian adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth , titled Maqbool, in 2003, and Rajiv Rai's Asambhav opposite Arjun Rampal and Priyanka Chopra in 2004. He then went on to work in The Great New Wonderful (2005). In 2011, Shah was seen in The Dirty Picture . He acted in Anup Kurian's The Blueberry Hunt , playing a recluse growing marijuana in his forest retreat, and in Waiting , starring opposite Kalki Koechlin, both of which were released in 2016.

Shah made his Pakistani film debut in Khuda Ke Liye by Shoaib Mansoor, where he played a short cameo. His second Pakistani film Zinda Bhaag was selected as the country's official entry to the 86th Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film award.

As a director

Naseeruddin Shah has been giving performances with his theatre troupe at places such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Lahore. He has directed plays written by Lavender Kumar, Ismat Chughtai and Saadat Hasan Manto.

His directorial debut in movies, Yun Hota To Kya Hota , was released in 2006. It stars several established actors such as Konkona Sen Sharma, Paresh Rawal, Irrfan Khan, then-newcomer Ayesha Takia, his son Imaad Shah and his old friend Ravi Baswani. [12]

Other media and art forms

Naseeruddin Shah playing Pozzo in Motley's production of Waiting for Godot at The Doon School, 2009. Naseeruddin Shah at The Doon School.jpg
Naseeruddin Shah playing Pozzo in Motley's production of Waiting for Godot at The Doon School, 2009.

In 1977, Shah, Tom Alter and Benjamin Gilani formed a theatre group called Motley Productions. Their first play was Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot , which was staged at the Prithvi Theatre on 29 July 1979. [13]

In 1988, he acted in the eponymous television series based on the life and times of Mirza Ghalib, directed by Gulzar and telecast on DD National. [14]

In 1989, he acted as the Maratha King Shivaji in another eponymous television series Bharat Ek Khoj based on Jawaharlal Nehru's book The Discovery of India . [15]

In mid 1990s, Shah also hosted some episodes of science magazine programme Turning Point . [16]

In 1999, he acted as a special agent in the TV series Tarkash on Zee TV. He played a retired agent haunted by nightmares who is re-inducted as he apparently knows something about a dreaded terrorist somehow connected with his past. He played the villain with the dual identity of a ghazal singer and a Pakistani spy who supports terrorism in India in Sarfarosh (1999). [17] He was the first of several celebrity actors, who played narrator in the popular audiobook series for kids Karadi Tales . [18] He along with wife Ratna was the narrator in the film Paheli  — the Indian entry to the 2006 Academy Awards. [19]

In 2017, Shah returned to film, starring in Shakespearean adaption The Hungry, screened under special presentations at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017. [20]

Personal life

Shah with wife Ratna Pathak at Gangs of Wasseypur screening in 2012 Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak at 'Gangs Of Wasseypur' screening 10.jpg
Shah with wife Ratna Pathak at Gangs of Wasseypur screening in 2012

In the 1970s, Shah met and fell in love with Ratna Pathak, the daughter of Dina Pathak, a well-respected character actress. Ratna's sister, the actress Supriya Pathak, is married to the actor Pankaj Kapoor. During the 70s and 80s, Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak co-starred in several films including Mirch Masala and The Perfect Murder. [21] [22] They were in a live-in relationship for many years, while Shah put together the mehr required to divorce Manara. Shah and Pathak were finally married in 1982. [23] By his second marriage, Shah has two sons, Imaad and Vivaan, both of whom are aspiring actors. The couple lives in Mumbai with Heeba, Imaad and Vivaan. [24]


In an interview with HT Brunch, Shah speaks about having thought about an autobiography for almost 10 years. He penned down his thoughts occasionally during this period until he finally came up with 100-odd pages. What had started as an amusing pastime had clearly grown into something much deeper. He then presented the unfinished version to his friend, historian Ramchandra Guha, who encouraged Shah to complete it and send it to a publication house. [25] Shah's memoir is titled And Then One Day, and was published by Hamish Hamilton. [26]


Naseeruddin has been frequently involved in controversy with his criticism of senior actors like Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, fellow actors like Anupam Kher, juniors like Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, cricketer Virat Kohli and politician and Prime minister Narendra Modi. Shah once said that people watching movies of Shahrukh and Salman should not watch his movies. [27] In July 2016, Shah blamed late Rajesh Khanna for mediocrity in movies with his poor acting during the 1970s. He also stated that the veteran actor was not an alert person whom he had met. However, later after criticism from several people in the Bollywood fraternity including Rajesh Khanna's daughter Twinkle, Naseeruddin apologized about his views. [28] On December 18, 2018, he sparked a controversy by calling Virat Kohli as the worst behaved cricketer in the world. [29]

Shah was targeted by right wing media after he reacted to an incident of communal violence in December 2018. He stated that he felt unsafe in current day India and was worried about the safety of his children if they were caught in a mob violence situation. [30] In January 2020, Shah was targeted by media after criticising his co-actor colleague Anupam Kher for his views supporting the Indian government’s Citizenship Amendment Act, calling him a clown and sycophant. [31]


Civilian Awards
1987 Padma Shri India's fourth highest civilian awardAwarded
2003 Padma Bhushan India's third highest civilian awardAwarded
National Film Award
1979 National Film Award for Best Actor Sparsh Won
1984 National Film Award for Best Actor Paar Won
2006 National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor Iqbal Won
Filmfare Award
1980 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award Junoon Nominated
1981 Filmfare Best Actor Award Aakrosh Won
1982 Filmfare Best Actor Award Chakra Won
1983 Filmfare Best Actor Award Bazaar Nominated
1984 Filmfare Best Actor Award Masoom Won
1984 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award Katha Nominated
1984 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award Mandi Nominated
1985 Filmfare Best Actor Award Sparsh Nominated
1994 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award Sir Nominated
1995 Filmfare Best Villain Award Mohra Nominated
1996 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award Naajayaz Nominated
1997 Filmfare Best Villain Award Chaahat Nominated
1999 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award China Gate Nominated
2000 Filmfare Best Villain Award Sarfarosh Nominated
2006 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award Iqbal Nominated
2007 Filmfare Best Villain Award Krrish Nominated
2008 Filmfare Best Actor Award A Wednesday! Nominated
2012 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award The Dirty Picture Nominated
Venice Film Festival
1984The Volpi Cup (Award for Best Actor) Paar Won

Other awards


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