Naseeruddin Shah started off his acting career with Shyam Benegal’s Hindi drama film titled Nishant in 1975. In the initial part of his career, all his films had either Smita Patil or Shabana Azmi as the lead actress of the film. Over the course of his illustrious acting career, some of his early roles which garnered him attention as an actor are Masoom and Izzazat. As a comedian, he did a splendid role in the super hit comedy film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro which was indeed a master piece. Another comedy performance of him which needs a special mention is his performance in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. As a lead actor, his performance in the film A Wednesday was arguably his best. He was bestowed with the Best Actor Award for his performance at various Award functions.
After playing the lead role in initial part of his career, he started playing the villain and supporting roles later. As a villain his first most significant performance came in the action thriller film Mohra. This was his 100th film as an actor. He portrayed the role of Mahatma Gandhi in one of the critically most acclaimed films Hey Ram. As a villain, he gave an award winning performance in the film Sarfarosh. His performance in the film was rated very highly.
As a supporting actor, he gave wonderful performances in films like Junoon, Sir, Mandi, Katha and The Dirty Picture among many others but the performance which made him arguably the Best Supporting Actor of Hindi cinema was his performance as the drunken coach Mohit in Nagesh Kukunoors film Iqbal in 2006. He was bestowed with the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his splendid performance in this film.
In addition to winning numerous Filmfare awards, he won 3 National Film Awards. He won the National Award for the Best Actor for his films like Paar and Sparsh and one as Best Supporting Actor in Iqbal.
In addition to acting, he has also tried his hands at direction. He has directed various critically acclaimed plays and finally made his debut as a director in Bollywood with the film Yun Hota To Kya Hota in 2006.
In addition to the silver screen, he has also acted on the small screen. He made his small screen debut by acting in the series based on the life of writer Mirza Ghalib which was directed by the noted director Gulzar. After which, he acted in the series titled Bharat Ek Khoj which was adapted from the book titled The Discovery of India written by Jawaharlal Nehru. He was last seen on small screen in the series titled Tarkash in the year 1999.