Naseeruddin Shah

Naseeruddin Shah (born 20 July 1949) is an Indian film and stage actor and director in the Hindi language film industry. He is considered among the finest actors of India and is a prominent figure in Indian parallel cinema.[1] 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.[2]

Naseeruddin Shah
Shah in 2013
Born (1949-07-20) 20 July 1949
Barabanki, United Provinces, India
Alma materFilm and Television Institute of India, National School of Drama
OccupationActor, Environmentalist
Years active1972–present
Spouse(s)Parveen Murad, also known as Manara Sikri (deceased)
Ratna Pathak (m. 1982)
Children3, including Imaad, Vivaan
RelativesZameerud-din Shah (brother)
Dina Pathak (mother-in-law)
Supriya Pathak (sister-in-law)
Mohommed Ali Shah (nephew)
AwardsPadma Bhushan, Padma Shri, National Film Award

Early life

Shah was born in Barabanki town of Uttar Pradesh, into a Muslim family that originally came from Meerut.[3] He is one of the three sons of Aley Mohammed Shah and his wife Farrukh Sultan. He is a descendant of a 19th-century Sayyid Afghan warlord Jan-Fishan Khan (Sayyid Muhammad Shah), who participated in the First Anglo-Afghan War and helped the British in the subsequent Indian Rebellion of 1857.[4]

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[5] (Retd.) PVSM, SM, VSM, was Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University.[6][7]


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.[8]

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 critically 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 critically acclaimed Hey Ram[9] which focused on the assassination of Gandhi from the assailant's point of view.

Shah won critical acclaim by playing Mohit, the drunken coach to a deaf and mute boy in Iqbal, which was written by Vipul K Rawal with Shah especially in mind. Shah was praised 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 critically acclaimed 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.[10][11]

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.[12]

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.[13][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 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

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, who is the father of Shahid Kapoor by his first marriage. 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]


Shah's memoir is titled And Then One Day, and was published by Hamish Hamilton.[25]


Year AwardFilmStatus
Civilian Awards
1987 Padma ShriIndia's fourth highest civilian awardAwarded
2003 Padma BhushanIndia's third highest civilian awardAwarded
National Film Award
1979 National Film Award for Best ActorSparshWon
1984 National Film Award for Best ActorPaarWon
2006 National Film Award for Best Supporting ActorIqbalWon
Filmfare Award
1980 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor AwardJunoonNominated
1981 Filmfare Best Actor AwardAakroshWon
1982 Filmfare Best Actor AwardChakraWon
1983 Filmfare Best Actor AwardBazaarNominated
1984 Filmfare Best Actor AwardMasoomWon
1984 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor AwardKathaNominated
1984 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor AwardMandiNominated
1985 Filmfare Best Actor AwardSparshNominated
1994 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor AwardSirNominated
1995 Filmfare Best Villain AwardMohraNominated
1996 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor AwardNaajayazNominated
1997 Filmfare Best Villain AwardChaahatNominated
1999 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor AwardChina GateNominated
2000 Filmfare Best Villain AwardSarfaroshNominated
2006 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor AwardIqbalNominated
2007 Filmfare Best Villain AwardKrrishNominated
2008 Filmfare Best Actor AwardA Wednesday!Nominated
2012 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor AwardThe Dirty PictureNominated
Venice Film Festival
1984 The Volpi Cup (Award for Best Actor)PaarWon

Other awards


See also


  1. "Naseeruddin Shah says essential for Muslims to stop feeling persecuted, assert claim on India". The Indian Express.
  2. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  3. Italo Spinelli (2002). Indian Summer: Films, Filmmakers and Stars Between Ray and Bollywood. Edizioni Oliveras. p. 144.
  4. "Obituary of Idries Shah", The Independent (London). 26 November 1996.
  5. "Former GOC 3 corps in VP race". Nagaland Page. 9 May 2017. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017.
  6. "People's Vice Presidential Candidate". State Herald. 12 May 2017.
  7. "High speculation former GOC 3 Corps VP". Morung Express. 10 May 2017.
  8. "Naseeruddin Shah". Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  9. February 28, Anna M. M. Vetticad; February 28, 2000 ISSUE DATE:; January 11, 2000UPDATED:; Ist, 2013 11:00. "Naseeruddin Shah gets to play Mahatma Gandhi twice". India Today. Retrieved 17 May 2019.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  10. "Yun Hota.. the Rediff review". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  11. "Vivaan Shah wants his father Naseer Shah to direct him in film". mid-day. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  12. "Still waiting, for Mr Godot". The Indian Express. 21 August 1997. Archived from the original on 24 April 2008.
  13. Ansari, Shahab (4 December 2013). "Naseeruddin Shah says he visited parts of Lahore in disguise". The News International. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  14. Pinglay, Prachi (23 July 2006). "Magazine / Interview:`I did all kinds of films'". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  15. Roychoudhary, Amborish (7 March 2013). "Being Naseer". Filmware.
  16. "Turning Point makes a comeback with new host and producer". India Today. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  17. "Not returning awards as they mean nothing to me: Naseeruddin Shah". The Indian Express. 6 November 2015.
  18. "Karadi tales". The Hindu. 5 June 2000.
  19. "Pahele is a revelation". Rediff. 27 June 2005.
  20. "The Hungry Trailer: Naseeruddin Shah". HindustanTimes. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  21. "Did you know why Heeba Shah agreed to play the role of the young Daadisa?". 17 August 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  22. "Naseeruddin Shah's son falls off train". The Times of India. 24 November 2006.
  23. "Does Naseeruddin Shah's first marriage and divorce scare his second wife Ratna?". Stardust. 29 July 2013.
  24. "Lipstick Under My Burkha actor Ratna Pathak Shah shares a moment in time from when she dated Naseeruddin Shah". The Indian Express. 30 July 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  25. Shah, Naseeruddin (2014). And then one day: A memoir. Hamish Hamilton. p. 1. ISBN 978-0670087648.
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