Naseeruddin Shah is undoubtedly one of the best actors to grace the Indian cinema. With impeccable acting skills, irresistible charm and voice with the right amount of calmness and vigor, Shah has blessed us with artwork that has become immortal. The fact that he is someone who is loved by people across generations is adequate to ascertain his contribution to the Indian film industry.
Along with the silver screen, Shah has been a prominent face in the Indian theatre circuit as well. He has been a part of several plays and has proven his calibre as a theatre actor. A National School of Drama (NSD) alumni, Shah had no familial connection to the entertainment industry. He paved his way purely through his talent and zeal and zest for the art of acting.
Whenever his name is mentioned, movies like 'Tridev', 'Nishant', 'Mirch Masala', and 'Aakrosh' instantly come to mind. They are a few of his best works after all. A classic and cult-favourite, ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ is a movie talked and taught about in film schools even today. It was Shah’s keen eye for good scripts and his ability to take up challenges when it came to acting that made him stand out from the rest of Bollywood mainstream crowd.
As great of an actor as Shah is, his work in the commercial space is something he isn’t very fond of even though he was a part of blockbuster commercial projects like 'Tridev', 'Karma', 'Aakrosh' and many others. In his own words, “I don’t think I have ever been good in a commercial movie, not that I didn’t try. I did try and I failed.”
In movies like 'Mohra' and 'Sarfarosh', Shah made a shift to the other side of the moral palette and played antagonist -- proof that he didn’t stay away from the mainstream space a lot.
His charm didn’t fade away with age. He has managed to retain his charisma on the silver screen even now. Take 'A Wednesday', 'Ishqiya' and 'The Dirty Picture' for instance. His small appearance in 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' and his role in the web series ‘Bandish Bandits’ are testament to the fact that he still got 'it' in him.
Apart from acting, Shah is also popular for being candid in his media appearances and interviews and doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind, a quality rarely found in actors. In an interview, Shah accused veteran actor Rajesh Khanna of mediocrity for which he faced backlash and later apologised for it. He also called cricketer Virat Kohli “world’s worst behaved player” and refused to take that back.
Shah induced a new controversy when he called Anupam Kher, his co-actor in 'A Wednesday', a ‘clown’ and his behaviour ‘sycophantic’. He once criticized Amitabh Bachhan for his choices and said that 'Sholay' might be a ‘mazedaar’ film but not a ‘great’ one.
Having opinions and being vocal about them is something as scarce as hen’s teeth in Bollywood. However, Shah has never shied away from voicing his opinions. This rawness and unfiltered way of communicating makes him different.
With equal doses of contribution in controversies and good cinema, Naseeruddin Shah is someone who is loved, hated but never ignored. We wish him a very happy birthday!