Naseeruddin 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.
Naseeruddin Shah made his debut with a small role in film Aman (1967) starring Rajendra kumar and Saira Banu.
Naseeruddin Shah has acted in many parallel movies including Mirch Masala, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Junoon, Mandi,Ardh Satya, Katha, and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro etc.
Naseeruddin Shah became active in mainstream Bollywood cinema with the 1980 film Hum Paanch.
One of his most important films, Masoom, was released in 1983 and was shot at St Joseph’s College, Nainital.
He strongly believed that the distinction between art and commercial films had largely reduced. 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. His acting was very much appreciated in mainstream Bollywood hits such as Sarfarosh and A Wednesday.
He has also acted 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.
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.
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.
Naseeruddin Shah 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
Naseeruddin Shah also acted in 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 2017, Shah returned to film, starring in Shakespearean adaption The Hungry, screened under special presentations at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017.
In the 1970s, Shah met and fell in love with Ratna Pathak, the daughter of Dina Pathak, a well-respected character actress. Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak co-starred in several films including Mirch Masala and The Perfect Murder.
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.
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.