- He started acting (Theatre) at a young age of 14. Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice was his first theatrical show.
- His debut movie, Nishant in 1975, was awarded the National Award in the Best Film category. The film was subsequently nominated for the Oscars.
- His brother, Retd. Lt. General Zameerud-din Shah, is the present in 2016 vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), UP.
- He has played with Aditya Pancholi in films like Maalamaal in 1988 and Game in 1993.
- He released his memoir titled And Then One day in 2014. In the memoir, the actor has admitted to having consumed marijuana (gaanja) in various phases of his life and credits it with giving him clarity of thought.
Shah has played in such films as Nishant, Aakrosh, Sparch, 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 Jalwa. to name a few.Shah became active in the Bollywood cinema with the movie Hum Paanch.
In 1982, he played in the film Dil Aakhir Dil Hai directed by Ismail Shroff, in front of Rakhee. One of his most important films, Masoom, was published in 1983 and was shot at St Joseph's College in Nainital. His next big hit in mainstream films was the multi-starr Karma movie of 1986 where he played alongside veteran Dilip Kumar. The main roles for films such as Ijaazat (1987), Jalwa (1988) and Hero Hiralal (1989) followed.
In 1988, he played against his wife Ratna Pathak as Inspector Ghote, the fictional detective for H. R. F. Keating's novels in The Merchant-Ivory The Perfect Murder.
He has also appeared in several multi-starred Bollywood films, such as Ghulami (1985), Tridev (1989) and Vishwatma (1992). In 1994, he acted like the villain of Mohra, his 100th film as an actor. He made an incursion into Malayalam cinema the same year, through the drama acclaimed by V. V. Chandran's critics, Ponthan Mada. The film depicts the irrational connection of a feudal serf and a colonial owner. He firmly believed that the distinction between art and commercial films had greatly diminished, especially with the directors of commercial films.
In 2000, his dream of playing Mahatma Gandhi was realized when he played Gandhi in Hey Ram, acclaimed by Kamal Hassan's critics, who focused on the assassination of Gandhi from the attacker's point of view. Shah was critically acclaimed as Mohit, the drunken coach of a deaf and dumb boy in Iqbal, written especially by Vipul K Rawal with Shah. [Citation needed] Shah was commended for his roles in the 1999 Aamir Khan-starrer Sarfarosh, where he played Gulfam Hassan - a ghazal singer and a terrorist brain - and in a Neeraj Pandey's Wednesday (2008), acclaimed by criticism.
Naseeruddin Shah gives concerts with his theater troupe in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Lahore. He has directed plays written by Lavender Kumar, Ismat Chughtai and Saadat Hasan Manto.
His first feature, Yun Hota To Kya Hota, was released in 2006. It features several established actors such as Konkona Sen Sharma, Paresh Rawal, Irrfan Khan, newcomer Ayesha Takia, his son Imaad Shah and his old friend Ravi Baswani.