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Naseeruddin Shah – “The finest definition of theatre that I have come across is ‘one actor-one audience’.” – Birthday Special

The versatile actor born on 20th July 1950 in a small town of Barabanki based in Uttar Pradesh into a Pashtun Muslim family that originally came from Meerut.
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 the National School of Drama in Delhi.

Post NSD Naseer got his first break 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 College, Nainital. His next major success in mainstream films was the 1986 multi-star film Karma where he acted alongside veteran Dilip Kumar.

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-starer 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.

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.

Naseer 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.

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.

Naseer and Ratna 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. 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.

Naseeruddin Shah has been honored with the highest civilian awards like Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan in the year 1987 and 2003 respectively. Naseer has been awarded trophies for the best actor in lead six times in Sparsh (1979), Paar (1984), Aakrosh (1981), Chakra (1982), Masoom (1984), Paar (1984) respectively.

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