Naseeruddin Shah is an Indian film and stage actor and director in the Hindi language film industry. He is notable in Indian parallel cinema.
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.
- Full name: Naseeruddin Shah
- Profession: Indian film actor
- Born: 20 July 1950 (age 69 years), Barabanki, India
- Spouse: Ratna Pathak (m. 1982)
- Children: Heeba Shah, Vivaan Shah, Imaad Shah
- Awards: Padma Shri, Filmfare Award for Best Actor, MORE
- TV shows: Mirza Ghalib, Bharat Ek Khoj, Mid Wicket Tales, The Anupam Kher Show – Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai, Chamatkar
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About Naseeruddin Shah
Naseeruddin Shah was born on20 July 1950 in Barabanki town of Uttar Pradesh, India. Into a Muslim family that originally came from Meerut.
He is one of the three sons of Aley Mohammed Shah and his wife Farrukh Sultan.
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 (Retd.) PVSM, SM, VSM, was Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University.
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.
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 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 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.
Other media and art forms
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.
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.
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.
In mid 1990s, Shah also hosted some episodes of science magazine programme Turning Point.
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).
He was the first of several celebrity actors, who played narrator in the popular audiobook series for kids Karadi Tales. He was the narrator in the film Paheli — the Indian entry to the 2006 Academy Awards.
In 2017, Shah returned to film, starring in Shakespearean adaption The Hungry, screened under special presentations at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017.