Naseeruddin Shah’s Success Story: From Acting Passion to Iconic Stardom

Naseeruddin Shah

Naseeruddin Shah: A Journey from Stage to Screen – A Biography

Naseeruddin Shah is an Indian actor. He is notable in Indian cinemas. He has also starred in many international productions. He has won numerous awards in his career such as three National Film Awards, three Filmfare Awards and the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival.

The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan awards for his contributions to Indian cinema.

Early and Personal life

Naseeruddin Shah was born on 20 July 1950 in Barabanki town, Uttar Pradesh into a Nawab family.  His great-great-grandfather was the Afghan warlord Jan-Fishan Khan.  

Shah attended St. Anselm’s Ajmer school and St Joseph’s College, Nainital. In 1971, he graduated in arts from Aligarh Muslim University and attended National School of Drama in Delhi.

Naseeruddin Shah was married to Manara Sikri and had a daughter, Heeba, with her. In the 1970s, Shah met and fell in love with Ratna Pathak. During the 70s and 80s they co-starred in many films, including Mirch Masala and The Perfect Murder.

Read also: Ranveer Allahbadia

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. The couple have two sons Imaad and Vivaan, both of whom are actors. They lives in Mumbai with Heeba, Imaad and Vivaan. His sister-in-law is actress Supriya Pathak, who is married to actor Pankaj Kapur.


Naseeruddin Shah has acted in films like Nishant, Aakrosh, Sparsh, Mirch Masala, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Trikal, Bhavni Bhavai, Junoon, Mandi, Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho!, Ardh Satya, Katha etc. In 1967, he made his debut with a small role in film Aman with Rajendra Kumar and Saira Banu.

After movie Hum Panch in 1980, he became active in mainstream Bollywood cinema. He performed in Dil Aakhir Dil Hai in 1982 opposite Rakhee. His movie Masoom was released in 1983. It was shot at St Joseph’s College, Nainital.

His Karma in 1986, was a major success. It was a multi-star film, in that he acted against Dilip Kumar. Lated he acted in Izaazat, Jalwa & Hero Hiralal. He acted against his wife Ratna Pathak in the movie The Perfect Murder in 1988.

Later he performed in Malamaal & Game with Aditya Pancholi. He performed in many multi-star Bollywood movies like Ghulami, Tridev & Vishwatma. In 1994, he acted in Mohra as a villain.

That was his 100th movie as an actor. In the same year, he entered in Malayalam cinema through Ponthan Mada.

In the year 2000, Naseeruddin Shah acted as Mahatma Gandhi in Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram. He played a noted role as a Gazal singer cum terrorist in Amir Khan’s mocie Sarfarosh. In 2008, he performed in A Wednesday. In 2001, Shah starred in international projects like Monsoon Wedding.

He worked in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool, in 2003, and Rajiv Rai’s Asambhav opposite Arjun Rampal and Priyanka Chopra in 2004. Later he went on to work in The Great New Wonderful in 2005. In 2011, he was seen in The Dirty Picture.

Naseeruddin Shah made his Pakistani film debut in Khuda Ke Liye, there he played a short cameo. His second Pakistani movie 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 performed 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.

Other media and art forms

In 1977, Naseeruddin 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.
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.

Read also: Sudha Chandran

In mid 1990s, Naseeruddin Shah also hosted some episodes of science magazine programme Turning Point in 1990.
In 1999, he acted as a special agent in the TV series Tarkash on Zee TV. He was the first of several celebrity actors, who played narrator in the popular audiobook series for kids Karadi Tales.

He along with wife Ratna was the narrator in the film Paheli — the Indian entry to the 2006 Academy Awards.

In 2017, Naseeruddin Shah returned to film, starring in Shakespearean Adaption The Hungry, screened under special presentations at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017. He also acted as lead in The Coffin Maker directed by Veena Bakshi, which however never got released in public but only remained for private viewership.


In 1987 Naseeruddin Shah received Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award. Later in 2003, he was awarded Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award.

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