Kundan Shah (19 October 1947–7 October 2017) was an Indian film director and writer. He is most known for his comedy classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) and his 1985–1986, TV series Nukkad with Saeed Akhtar Mirza.
Shah studied direction at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and he developed an interest in the comedy genre.
His directorial debut was the comedy film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (aka Who Pays the Piper) in 1983. He also was the co-writer of the film, with Satish Kaushik. The film introduced Indian cinema to satirical comedy for the first time and was well accepted as not being slapstick.
Shah then started to work in television. He was one of the directors of the popular sitcom Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, which started telecast in August 1984. He became a partner of Iskra, a company founded by Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Aziz Mirza, and others. In 1985–1986 he directed the TV series Nukkad (street) along with Saeed Akhtar Mirza. The serial was another folk comedy dealing with the routine life of street youngsters. In 1987 he directed another television serial named “Manoranjan”, the comedy serial was based on the film industry and became an instant hit. In 1988, he started directing sitcom, Wagle Ki Duniya, based on the cartoonist, R. K. Laxman’s character, the common man, starring Anjan Srivastav.
After directing several serials, Shah took a long break of 7 years from the cinema.
Shah made his comeback to the cinema in 1993. He directed the famous Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and wrote the screenplay for the film. The film was another comic love story but it also displayed new aspects to its credit — it was the first time that the hero in the film was an absolute loser. The film starred Shahrukh Khan in one of his first roles. The film was much acclaimed and both Shah and Khan were appreciated for their work. In 1994, Shah won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie for the film. He was the first filmmaker to win this award.
In 1998, Shah directed another acclaimed film, Kya Kehna. Due to delay, the film released in 2000 and became the surprise hit of the year. The film dealt with the social controversial issue of single parenthood. Actress Preity Zinta debuted in this film and enacted the lead role of a teenage single mother who tries to overcome the values of her society. Zinta’s performance was also acclaimed. The film also starred Saif Ali Khan and Chandrachur Singh.
Shah’s next releases were Hum To Mohabbat Karega (2000) starring Bobby Deol and Karisma Kapoor, Dil Hai Tumhaara (2002) with Rekha and Zinta, and Ek Se Badhkar Ek (2004). None of these fared well at the box office.