Naseeruddin Shah was born on 20 July1950 in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. A film and theatre actor and director, Shah graduated in arts from Aligarh Muslim University in 1971 and later joined the National School of Drama (NSD) in Delhi. After passing out from NSD he shifted to Mumbai.
Naseeruddin Shah has acted in such well-acclaimed movies 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, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Masoom,. Hum Paanch in 1980was his first mainstream film. He has acted in several multi-starrer Bollywood films as well, such as Ghulami (1985), Tridev (1989) and Vishwatma (1992). In 1994, he acted as the villain in Mohra which was his 100th film as an actor. In 2000 he played Mahatma Gandhi in Kamal Hassan's critically acclaimed film Hey Ram. He has earned the highest critical acclaim for his performances as a drunken coach in the film Iqbal, as Gulfam Hassan , a ghazal singer cum terrorist mastermind in the 1999 Aamir Khan starrer Sarfarosh, and in Neeraj Pandey's film, A Wednesday (2008). He has also acted in many Malayalam films. He made his Pakistani film debut in a cameo role in Khuda Ke Liye (directed by Shoaib Mansoor).
Naseeruddin Shah continues to do theatre. He has directed plays written by Lavender Kumar, Ismat Chughtai and Saadat Hasan Manto.
Shah has been awarded three National Film Awards (Sparsh- 1979, Paar- 1984 and Iqbal- 2006), and three Filmfare Awards (Aakrosh-1981, Chakra- 1982, and Masoom- 1984. The Government of India has honoured him with the Padma Shri (1987) and the Padma Bhushan (2003). He is married to veteran actress Ratna Pathak Shah.