Seldom do we come across a couple who embrace differences and still manage to keep the sparks alive. Old-school sweethearts Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah prove love gets better with time.
In an industry where relationships and marriages seem quite hard to put up, Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah make for one of the most endearing pairs in Bollywood whose love has stood the test of time. Known for their bold choices and exceptional performances, this duo has managed to keep the old charm alive. Often labelled as an unconventional couple, their love story rather seems to be the most comforting and inspiring one. What is even more fascinating is their strong individuality and passion for their craft. Their story is not like any other power couple of Bollywood, rather it’s a story of two common individuals and their old-school charm that continues to amaze us.
Naseeruddin Shah is undoubtedly one of the finest actors in the Hindi film industry who has time and again proved his unparalleled versatility over the years. Coming from a humble background in a town called Barabanki, located in Uttar Pradesh, Shah went on to embark on his acting expedition with a determination to make his own identity and challenge stereotypical norms and conventions. Before coming into films, he began his acting career in theatre where his powerful stage presence soon gained him recognition. He completed his early education at St. Anselm’s Ajmer School and St Joseph’s College, Nainital. After graduating from Aligarh Muslim University in arts in 1971, Shah went on to pursue acting by enrolling in one of the most prestigious acting schools, the National School of Drama in Delhi. With his stint in theatre, he was able to get a command over his skill, and in no time he made his debut with a small role in a film called Aman (1967). Shah’s foray into Bollywood marked the beginning of an illustrious film career that has spanned over four decades. However, his mainstream Bollywood career began with the 1980 film Hum Paanch. His collaborations with ace filmmakers like Ketan Mehta, Shyam Benegal, and Govind Nihalani led to some of his most exceptional performances that have left a mark on his audience. His portrayals of complex and layered characters in films like Masoom, Jane Bhi Do Yaaro, Aakrosh, and Sparsh have earned him numerous accolades and have been hailed as masterclasses in acting.
Ratna Pathak Shah, with her extraordinary talent and elegance, has etched her name as one of the finest actresses in Bollywood. Known for her remarkable screen presence, she has captivated the audience with her versatility and natural grace. Born on March 18, 1957, Ratna Pathak Shah comes from a family deeply embedded in the world of arts. Her mother, Dina Pathak who was also a renowned actress had a strong influence on her while she was growing up. It was much later that she realized her passion for acting and started her career in the theatre itself. Her journey much like her husband started at the prestigious theatre school National School of Drama and it was during this time that she met Naseeruddin Shah and love soon blossomed between the duo. Her early portrayal of the iconic character Maya Sarabhai in the popular television sitcom Sarabhai vs Sarabhai rose her to prominence and in no time she became a household name. However, her impeccable versatility and range became visible in films like Mirch Masala, Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na, Kapoor & Sons, and Lipstick Under My Burkha, where the audience got a glimpse of her exceptional talent to portray some complex and layered characters with ease.
Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah came from two different backgrounds, but as destiny would call it, both managed to find their ways to each other. Shah had just graduated from FTII and he got a part in Satyadev Dubey’s play Sambhog Se Sanyas Tak where he met Ratna Ji, his co-actor in the same play. It was at a sugarcane kiosk where the two first saw each other and felt butterflies in their stomachs. As the couple recalls, they soon started going out and shared an unbreakable bond. When asked about her love story, Ratna Ji mentioned in an interview, “One day we were not even friends; the next day we were going out together.” Reminiscing about their dating phase and career, the couple is often seen making statements like “Instead of pulling us apart, our backgrounds have contributed towards our development, in making us rich human beings.”
Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah had a journey of a kind. When they first met, Naseeruddin Shah was already married and had a child. They also had an age gap of 13 years and belonged to different religions. But, both managed to stick together and fought all the challenges that life threw their way. Despite coming from different backgrounds, they never let their differences come into their relationship, rather they embraced those differences and became a strong pillar for each other. When asked about their relationship, Ratna Ji quoted during a talk show “It’s a relationship which has been very useful. It is a relationship of equals, of friends, which has been a blessing for us.” Since they couldn’t get married due to Naseer’s married status, the couple stayed in a live-in relationship for 6 years. Ultimately, when Naseer got divorced, they decided to take their love to the next level. The couple tied the knot in 1982, which was an intimate affair with only close family and friends. Sharing an anecdote from their marriage, Ratna Ji said, “We had a fantastic wedding. Ours was probably one of the few marriages that I attended, where the bride and groom both had fun. We had a ball at our wedding! We went to the beach, swam and drank wine, and had a great time.” Their union brought two very artistically rich families together, as Ratna’s mother Dina Pathak was an established actress, and Naseeruddin’s brother Zameeruddin Shah was also a respected figure in the industry.
Outside the Spotlight
Like any relationship, they too had faced their fair share of challenges. Their profession had its demands with hectic schedules and constant limelight, yet, throughout these years, their bond has only grown much stronger, setting a wonderful example of how love can have shared passions and mutual respect. The couple has two sons namely Imaad and Vivaan, and a daughter named Heeba from Naseer’s previous marriage. Despite their achievements, the Shahs have always valued their privacy and have kept away from the glitz and glamour of the industry. They always prioritize their family, craft, and personal growth over any fame and remain true to their values.
Today, Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah are not just excellent artists but shining examples of a true partnership. Their journey as a couple has not just stood the test of time but has also shown us how relationships can be nurtured with love, respect, and support despite the sprints and dips on the way. In an industry where couples often face the challenges of fame, competition, and jealousy, their ability to bring out the best in each other, both as actors and as individuals is a testament to their pure connection and mutual admiration as a couple and parents.